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The rights of the City of Dublin invaded — Conduct of the Lord Chan- 
cellor on iMr. Curran's speech before the Privy Council — Adverse 
decision — Indignation of the people — Proceedings of the Whig Club, 
and their vindication in reply to the Chancellor's attack — Meeting of 
the citizens of Dublin — Their resolutions — Letters of Mr. Grattan 
to Mr. M'Can, Mr. Day, and the Rev. Ldward Berwick — Mr. Foster 
chosen Speaker of the new parliament — Responsibility Bill — Mr. 
Grattan's letter to Mr. Day on that subject . . . page 1 


Meeting of Parliament, January, 1791 — Speeches of Mr. Ponsonby and 
Mr. Grattan — Character and conduct of Lord Westmoreland — Public 
feeling in Ireland — Dinner by the Whigs of the capital — Resolutions 
of the Volunteers — Decree of Louis XVI. in favour of toleration — 
French revolution — French principles in Ireland — Question of Ro- 
man Catholic Emancipation — Effect of the penal laws — Edmund 
Burke's writings in favour of the Catholics — 111 treatment of the 
Catholics by the Government — Their communication with the Whig 
Club — Lord Kenmare's address to the Lord-lieutenant — Address of 
the "Sixty-eight" — People disapprove of both addresses — Conduct of 
the Opposition — Meeting of Parliament, January, 1792 — Mr. Grat- 
tan's speech— Remarkable eulogy on Dean Kirwan — Account of 
his charity seimons ..... page 28 


Roman Catholic Bill of 1792, proposed by Sir Hercules Langrishe, 
supported by Mr. Hobart the secretary — Catholic resolutions — Mr. 



Richard Burke— His petition, and character — Conduct towards Mr. 
Egan — Protestant petitions in favour of the Catholics — Mr. Grattan's 
description of Protestant ascendancy — Mr. Latouche moves the re- 
jection of the Protestant and Catholic petition — The Bill passes — 
Violent debates — Mr. Napper Tandy's quarrel with Mr. Toler — 
Question of privilege — Mr. Tandy's trial and acquittal — Speaker 
Foster's speech — Prosperous state of the country — Declaration of the 
Catholics — Circular letter of Committee — Corporation and Grand 
Jury instigated to address against the Catholics — Opinion of lawyers 
on the legality of the Convention— Meeting at Mr. Forbes's — Mr. 
Grattan's letters to Mr. M'Can and Mr. Berwick — His interview with 
the Prince of Wales and Mr. Pitt — Their opinion of the Catholics — 
Convention meet and send their petition to the King by their own 
delegates — Their correspondence with the Minister — Character of 
Mr. Keogh — Opinion of Edmund Burke . . . page 53 


The Irish Parliament meets, Jan. 1793 — Speech from the throne in fa- 
vour of the Roman Catholics — Lord Clare's opposition and speech — 
Injurious effects on the minds of the Catholics— Mr. Grattan's amend- 
ment to the address — Opposes French doctrines — Mr. Hobart (secre- 
tary) brings in the bill for the relief of the Roman Catholics — Seconded 
by Sir Hercules Langrishe — Mr. Grattan's speech — Lord Clare's 
reply to the Bishop of Killala — Expresses his dread of a Union — 
Abuse of the people — Doctor Duigenan, his character — Singular 
duel — Loyalty of the Catholics — Their treatment — Lord Thurlow — 
Conduct of Mr. Pitt — Letter of the King — Lord Thurlow's remarks 
on it — Lord Loughborough, Chancellor of England — His character 
and conduct — Anecdote — His letters to Mr. Grattan — Richard 
Burke's letter, and Edmund Burke's remarkable letter to Mr. Grat- 
tan on Irish affairs ..... page 84 


, Parliamentary Reform — State of representation — History of Irish 
boroughs — Wm. Ponsonby supports Reform — Mr. Grattan moves 
for a committee — Mr. Corry's amendment — Mr. Grattan's resolutions 
— Sir John Parnell's carried — Mr. Toler's motion — Stewart. (Lord 
Castlereagh) speaks in favour of it — Measure lost — Bad effect in Ire- 
land — British Corresponding Societies — Artifices of Mr, Dundas 
(Lord Melville) — Formation of United Irishmen — Counter associa- 
tion by the Duke of Leinster — Parties in Ireland — Disposition of her 
governors, and conduct of Lord Clare — French Revolution — Death 
of Louis XVI. — War with England — Defenders — Report of Lords' 
Committee — Catholics cleared of the charges against them — Procla- 
mation by Government — Lord Edward Fitzgerald's speech — Volun- 
teers dispersed — Their cannon seized — Arms and Gunpowder Bill — 
Sir Simon Butler and Oliver Bond imprisoned by the House of Lords 
— Convention Bill — Place, Pension, and Barren Land Bills — The 
hereditary revenue yielded by the King — End of Session, 1793 — List 
of placemen. ...... page 115 




Irish Parliament meets, January 1794 — Mr. Grattan supports the war 
against France — Sir L. Parsons's motion opposed by Mr. Grattan — 
His reasons — Mr. Ponsonby — Reform Bill — Mr. Grattan's speech in 
favour of Bill — Rejected — Parliament prorogued — Death of Richard 
Burke — Edmund Burke's advice to the Catholics — His letter to Mr. 
Grattan — Proceedings of United Irishmen and Defenders — Mr. 
Hamilton Rowan — Mr. Tone — Mr. Jackson — Conduct of Govern- 
ment — Mr. Grattan applied to, to form part of new administration and 
refuses — Letter of Lord Fitzwilliam — Goes to England — Interview 
with the Duke of Portland — Dinner with Mr. Pitt — Denis Daly — 
W.G.Hamilton and Serjeant Adair's opinion of Mr. Pitt — His 
interview with Mr. Grattan — He agrees to grant the Catholic question 
— Letters of Mr. Grattan and Lord Fitzwilliam — Accepts office of 
Lord -lieutenant — Mr. Grattan's interview with the Duke of Portland 
— Jobs complained of — Breach of faith — King's levee — Conduct of 
Mr. Pitt ....... page 144 


Lord Fitzwilliam arrives in Ireland, January, 1795 — Joy of the people 
— Addresses from Protestants and Catholics — His reply — Speech to 
the Irish Parliament — Mr. Grattan moves the address to the King — 
Edmund Burke's remark — Mr. Grattan proposes a grant of 200,000/. 
to raise 40,000 seamen — Sir Lawrence Parsons as to the principles and 
intentions of the Whig party — Reduction in the national expenses — 
Mr. Grattan obtains leave to bring in the Catholic bill — Lord Fitzwil- 
liam is recalled — Sir Lawrence Parsons moves a short money bill — 
Alarming state of the country in consequence of Lord Fitzwilliam's 
recall — Vote of approbation of his conduct by the House of Commons 
— Private history of the intrigues of the Beresford party with Mr. Pitt — 
Proceedings as to Messrs. Beresford, Cooke, Wolfe, and Toler — Letters 
of Lord Fitzwilliam and the Duke of Portland, respecting Mr. Beres- 
ford — Treacherous conduct of Mr. Pitt — Fatal consequences — Mr. 
Grattan's opinion thereon — Letters of Mr. Forbes, Lord Lough- 
borough, and Mr. Burke — Proceedings in the British Parliament — 
Protest of Lords Ponsonby and Fitzwilliam — Letters of Lord Fitz- 
william and Lord Milton .... page 182 


Conduct of the Irish on the recall of Lord Fitzwilliam, March, 1 795 — Ad- 
dresses to Mr. Grattan, and his answers — Error of the Opposition in 
joining the Duke of Portland — Arrival of Lord Camden — Mr. Grattan's 
remarks as to British cabinet and connexion — Sensation in the House by 
his spirited conduct — Motion on the state of the nation — rejected — 
Separation between Protestant and Catholic — Rejection of Catholic 
question — Remarks of Mr. Grattan — Result of change of government 
— Defenders and Orangemen — Persecution of Catholics — Lord Gos- 
ford and the Armagh resolutions — Spread of Defenderism and United 
Irish— Illegal conduct of Lord Carhampton — Parliament meets, Ja- 



nuary, 1796 — Indemnity and Insurrection Bills — Speech of Lord Ed- 
ward Fitzgerald — State of peasantry — Motion of Curran and Jephson — 
Whig Club report on the poor of Ireland — Invasion apprehended — 
Parliament called in October 1796 — Mr. Grattan's amendment — 
Messrs. Fletcher and Curran — Habeas Corpus Act suspended — Mr. 
Grattan's proposition in favour of the Catholics — His declaration as 
to the Government measures — Yeomanry called out . page 215 


Wolfe Tone goes from America to France — Urges the invasion of Ire- 
land — French forces — their failure — Letter to Mr. Grattan., and 
despatch of Lord Lieutenant as to loyalty of Catholics — Measures in 
Irish Parliament — Military proceedings in 1797 — Imprisonments — 
Arthur O'Connor arrested — General Lake's proclamation — North of 
Ireland under military law — Mr, Grattan's motion negatived — 
Excesses of the soldiery — Mr. Fox's motion in British Parliament for 
lenient measures towards Ireland — Dr. Duigenan's motion against 
Mr. Fox — Arrest of United Irishmen at Belfast — Report of Secret 
Committee, May, 1797 — Number, arms, finances, and plan of Society 
— Its originators described by Dr. M'Nevin ^-Trial of United Irish- 
men — Curran' s speech — Mr. Ponsonby's motion for reform and 
emancipation — The Opposition Members secede — Feeling in England 
and Ireland as to Mr. Pitt — Meetings and resolutions of the Irish in 
defence of their rights — The Lord Lieutenant and the soldiery stop 
them— Mr. Grattan declines to set up at the general election — 
Addresses his constituents — They resolve not to attend the hustings 
— He retires from the yeomanry — Goes to Castleconnell for his health 
— His letter to his fellow-citizens — Lord Clare attacks Lord Aid- 
borough and the leaders of the Opposition — Mr. Grattan defends 
them — Mr. Pitt disapproves of Lord Clare's conduct — Letter of Dr. 
Haliday to Lord Camden — Mr. Fox and the Bishop of Waterford to 
Mr. Grattan— His reply —Letters to Mr. Monck, Mr. M'Can, and the 
Reverend Mr. Berwick ..... page 259 


Lord Moira's motion in the British Parliament in favour of Ireland 
(Nov. 1797) — His statement of the cruelties towards the Irish people 
— Similar motion in the Irish parliament (February, 1798) — Lord 
Carhampton retires from the command of the troops in Ireland — His 
character — His conduct towards the Rev. Mr. Berwick — Humane 
disposition of the latter towards the peasantry — Cruelties practised on 
them — System of spies and informers decried by Lord Moira — Their 
confessions — Liberation of Neilson in consequence — The Press news- 
paper destroyed by the military — Curran's description of the informers 
— Parliament meets — Complaints of the conduct of the military — 
Sir Lawrence Parsons' motion for conciliation — Mr. (Lord) Plunket's 
speech — Sir Lawrence Parsons forced to resign the command of the 
militia — His letter to Lord Camden — • Mr. Grattan's reasons for 
seceding from Parliament — His remarks on the Government, and 
their conduct towards the people— Knowledge by the Government of 



the proceedings of the United Irishmen — Lord Clonmell's statements 
thereon — His singular remark — Arrest of the Leinster delegates, the 
12th of March — Proclamation of rebellion — History of the United 
Irishmen — Views, objects, and errors — The Emmett family — Anec- 
dote of Dr. Emmett — Mr. Grattan's remarks — Characters of Temple, 
Thomas Addis, and Robert Emmett — Mr. Peter Burrowes* and Mr. 
Grattan's remarks on them — T. A. Emmett's letter from America to 
Mr. Peter Burrowes — Character of Lord Edward Fitzgerald — A. 
O'Connor, Jackson, the Sheares, and Neilson — Curran's visit to the 
latter in prison ...... page 325 


Mr. Grattan remains at Tinnehinch — Visit by Neilson and the Govern- 
ment spy — Mr. Grattan's statement — Conduct of Government — 
Reynolds the informer — Lord Edward Fitzgerald — Lord Clonmell 
— The Ancient Britons — Lord Dufferin's visit — O'Connor's trial — 
Narrative by Mrs. Grattan — Excesses by the Yeomanry and Ancient 
Britons — French tutor's escape from hanging — Mr. Grattan arrested in 
London — Free quarters at Mrs. Birmingham's — Mrs. Grat'an goes to 
Wales — Sir Ralph Abercromby resigns the command of the troops in 
Ireland — Cruel orders of Sir James Stuart — Arrest and death of Lord 
Edward Fitzgerald — Conduct of Lord Camden — Lady Louisa Conolly 
and Lord Clare — Insurrection breaks out 23rd of May — Martial law 
proclaimed — Conduct of John Claudius Beresford and Colonel Max- 
well (afterwards Lord Farnham) — Proposals of execution and confis- 
cation discouraged — Excesses of the military — Burning Maynooth, 
Kilcock, Celbridge — Conduct in the county of Wicklow — Sir John 
Moore's remarks on the Yeomanry — Various conflicts during the 
Insurrection — General Nugent's cruel proclamation — The chieftains 
Holt and Dwyer, traits of — Mr. Sheridan's motion in the British 
House of Commons on behalf of Ireland — Lord Cornwallis sent to 
Ireland — Landing and capture of the French under Humbert — Dr. 
Duigenan's pamphlet, attacks Mr. Grattan — The latter proceeds to 
Dublin — Narrow escape at Tinnehinch — Letters to Mr. Berwick and 
M'Can — Report of Secret Committee of the House of Lords — Neilson 
and Hughes' evidence — Difference between the Reports of the Com- 
mons and the Lords — Mr. Grattan disfranchised by the corporation 
of Dublin — His name struck from the privy council — Letters of 
Dowdall and Neilson — Mr. Grattan's letters to Mr. Fox, Mr. Berming- 
ham, and Mr. M'Can — Statement by Mr. Grattan submitted to Mr. 
(afterwards Lord) Erskine — Opinion of the latter — Mr. Grattan's 
letter to the Courier newspaper on his disfranchisement by the Dublin 
corporation — Letters of Mr. Berwick and Mr. Fox — Dowdall and 
Bird's singular letters to Mr. Grattan — Letters of Mrs. Grattan con- 
cerning Mr. Grattan's health — Union proposed in British Parliament 
rejected by the Irish House of Commons — Pitt's conduct, shameful 
bribery to carry it— .Mr. Grattan returns to Ireland . page 372 





1. Resolutions of the Citizens of Dublin in 1790 . . . 445 

2. Resolutions of the Independent Dublin Volunteers, and the 

Decree of Louis the 16th, King of the French, in favour of 
Religious Toleration . . . . .451 

3. Petition in favour of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, prepared 

by Mr. Burke in 1792 . . . . .452 

4. Opinion on the legality of the Catholic Convention of 1793 . 458 

5. Declaration of the Roman Catholics in answer to the Dublin 

Corporation, October, 1792 ..... 463 

6. List of Irish State Prisoners sent to Fort George by special 

order of the King in 1799 . . . . . 468 





Mr. Grattan to Mr. M'Can, July, 1790,— Whig Club . . .21 

Same .. to Mr. Day, 13th July, 1790 —Invitation . . 21 

Mr. Day to Mr. Grattan, 15th July, 1790,— Napper Tandy— Lord 

Westmoreland's Publication . . . . .22 

Mr. Grattan to Mr. M'Can, ] 1th August, 1 790,— Whig Club . . 23 

Same .. to Rev. Mr. Berwick, 3rd September, 1790, — Whig Vin- 
dication — Lord Clare . . . . . .23 

Same .. to Mr. Day, 24th December, 1790,— Sign Manual . 26 
Same . . to Mr. M'Can, 26th July,— Mr. Pollock and Whig Club 41 
Same . . to Rev. Mr. Berwick, 14th August, 1792, — Burke's 

Work 70 

Same to same, 13th October, 1792, — Mr. Hardy — Volunteers . 71 
Same .. to sarue, 25th October, 1792, — The Roman Catholics . 72 
Same .. to Mr. M'Can, 6th November, 1792 . . .72 

Same . . to same, 16th November, 1792, — The Roman Catholics . 73 
Same . . to same, 22nd November, 1792, — The Roman Catholics 

— Volunteers . . . . . . .73 

Same .. to same, 7th December, 1792, — Roman Catholics — His 

Advice — Reform . . . . . .74 

Mr. Dundas to the Roman Catholic Delegates, 19th December, 1792, — 

Petition to the King . . . . . .78 

The Roman Catholic Delegates to Mr. Dundas, 20th December, 1792, — 

Petition to the King . . . . . .79 

Lord Loughborough to Mr. Grattan, 30th January, 1793, — Irish Par- 
liament ....... 107 

Same .. to same, 21st February, 1793, — Irish Parliament — 

Roman Catholics . . ... 108 

Richard Burke to Mr. Grattan, February 28th, 1793,— Catholic Bill .111 
Edmund Burke to Mr. Grattan, March 8th, 1793,— Catholic Bill— Lord 

Clare . . . . . . . .112 

Same . . to same, 3rd September, 1794, — Death of his Son — Irish 

Politics— Roman Catholics — Dublin University . .153 




Mr. Forbes to Mr. Hardy, 25th May, 1793,— Committals, by the Lords, 

of Butler and Bond, for Breach of Privilege . . . 158 

Mr. Grattan to Mr. Day, 16th July, 1794— French War . . 171 

Lord Fitzwilliam to Mr. Grattan, August 23rd, 1794, — Lord Lieuten- 
ancy of Ireland . • . . . .173 

Mr. Grattan to Mr. Berwick, 12th September, 1794, — His Arrival in 

London ....... 174 

Mr. Pitt to Mr. Grattan, 15th October, 1794, — Requesting an Interview 175 
Same . . to same, 15th October, 1794, — Confidential Communi- 
cation . . . . . . . 176 

Mr. Grattan to Mr. M'Can, 27th October, 1794, — Respecting the Nego- 
tiations with Lord Fitzwilliam . . . .178 

Lord Fitzwilliam to Mr. Grattan, 30th October, 1794, — Accepts the 

Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland . . . . .179 

Mr. Forbes to Mr. Serjeant Adair, 25th February, 1795, — Respecting 

Mr. Pitt and the Catholics . . . . .196 

Lord Loughborough to Mr. Grattan, 28th February, 1795, — Respecting 

Lord Fitzwilliam and the Beresfords .... 197 

Edmund Burke to Mr. Grattan, 3rd March, 1795, — Lord Fitzwilliam — 

Intrigues of the Beresfords, &c. . . . .199 

Same . . to same, 5th March, 1795, — Beresfords — Lord Clare — 

Lord Fitzwilliam — the Catholics .... 202 

Lord Fitzwilliam to Mr. Grattan, 25th April, 1795, — Lord Fitzwilliam's 
Interview with the King on the subject of his Recall — His 
Defence in the House of Lords .... 208 

Lord Milton to Mr. Grattan, 26th April, 1795, — Debates in the Lords 

on Lord Fitzwilliam's Recall . . . . .212 

Mr. John Therry to Mr. Grattan, 6th January, 1797,— Loyalty of the 

Roman Catholics on the appearance of the French off Bantry 264 

Lord Camden to the Duke of Portland, 10th January, 1797, — On the 
Good Conduct and Loyalty of the Irish in 1796, when the 
French appeared ...... 265 

Lord Moira to the Whig Club, 30th April, 1797,— On his Motion in 

Parliament ....... 276 

Doctor Haliday to Lord Camden, 29th March, 1797,— On the State of 

the North and General Lake's Proclamation . .311 

Charles James Fox to Mr. Grattan, 7th April, 1797, — On the State of 

Ireland ....... 314 

The Bishop of Waterford to Mr. Grattan, 14th May, 1797,— On the 

Secret Committee — Mr. Grattan's conduct . . . 317 

Mr. Grattan to the Bishop of Waterford, 17th May, 1797, — Reply to 

the above on his conduct ..... 317 

Same. . to Mr. (afterwards Lord) Monck, May 1797 — Retires from 

Yeomanry ....... 318 

Same .. to Mr. M'Can, — 1797, — His health — Convictions and 

executions ....... 319 

Same . . to same, 27th Sept. 1797,— Of Peter Burrowes— Sheridan 321 
Same . . to same, 3rd October, 1797, — Conduct of Government 322 
Same .. to same, 11th October, 1797, — The Orangemen . 322 




Mr. Grattan to Rev. Mr. Berwick, 26th October, 1797,— Mr. Pitt- 
Sheridan — Fitzgibbon ..... 323 

Sir Laurence Parsons to Lord Camden, March, 1798, — Resigns com- 
mand of Militia ...... 344 

Lord Camden to Sir L. Parsons, 28th March, 1798, — Accepts the 

Resignation ....... 344 

Mr. Thomas Addis Emmett to Mr. Peter Burrowes, 19th Nov. 1806, — 

His feelings as to Ireland, and return thither . . 361 

Mr. Grattan to Mr. M'Can, 27th June, 1798,— Dr. Duigenan's Pam- 
phlet . . . . . . . .383 

Mrs. Grattan to same, 27th June, 1798,— Journey to North Wales . 383 
Mr. Grattan to Dr. Duigeuan, 7th August, 1798, — In reply to his 

attack ....... 403 

Same . . to the Rev. Mr. Berwick, 19th September, 1798, — Books 

of Divinity — Landing of the French — Lord Cornwallis . 404 

Same . . to Mr. M'Can, 21st September, 1798, — Hughes's Evidence 405 
Wm. Dowdall to Mr. Grattan, 6th October, 1798,— Neilson's Evidence 409 
Samuel Neilson to Mr. Grattan, 5th October, 1798, — Report of Secret 

Committee — lus Evidence .... 410 

Mr. Grattan to the Rev. Richard Bermingham, 23rd October, 1798,— 

Guild of Merchants' resolution against him . .411 

Same .. to Mr. M'Can, 27th October, 1798,— Hughes's Evidence 412 
Same . . to Mr. Fox, 20th October, 1798, on their removal from 

the Privy Council ...... 412 

Same . . to Mr. Erskine, 1st November, 1798, — His statement on 

the Report of House of Lords .... 413 

Mr. Erskine to Mr. Grattan, Nov. 1798, — His opinion on the case . 414 
Mr. Grattan to the Editor of the Courier, 9th November, 1798,— On 
the conduct of the Guild of Merchants and the Dublin 
University . . . . . .416 

Same .. to Mr. Berwick, 10th November, 1798, — Lords' Com- 
mittee Report — Neilson's evidence . . .419 
Same . . to same, 15th November, 1798, — On the attacks upon him 420 
Same . . to Mr. M'Can, 18th November, 1798,— On Hugbes's visit 

to Tinnehinch . . . . . .421 

Same .. to Mr. Berwick, 30th November, 1798,— Politics of 

the day . . . . . . . 422 

Same . . to same, — On the Corporation of Derry . . 422 

Samuel Neilson to the Editor of the Morning Chronicle as to Mr. Grattan 422 
Wm. Dowdall to Mr. Grattan, December, 1798, — On Bird's intima- 
tion of the attempts against Mr. Grattan . . . 425 
Same .. to J. Bird, as to Mr. Grattan . . . . 426 

J. Bird to Mr. Grattan, 1st December, 1798, — As to the attempts 

against Mr. Grattan ..... 426 

Mr. Grattan to Mr. Fox, 6th December, 1798, — Lords' Report, and 

conduct of Irish Ministers .... 429 

Same .. to same, 20th January, 1799,— On the rejection of 

the Union ...... 434 

Mr. Fox to Mr. Grattan, 4th February, 1799,— On the Union . . 435 




Henry DundaS to the Earl of Mornington as to Ireland and the Union 436 

Marquess Cornwallis to the Earl of Mornington as to Ireland . . 437 

Same . . to same, as to Ireland and the Union . . . 437 

Mrs. Grattan to Mr. M'Can, 5th March, 1799,— On Mr. Grattan's 

health . . . . . . .438 

Same . . to same, 10th April, 1799, ditto . 438 

Same .. to same, 11th May, 1799, ditto . 439 

Same . . to same, 15th May, — Dilapidations at Tinnehinch . 439 

Same . . to same, 29th June, — Goes to Isle of Wight . . 440 

Same . . to same, 8th September, — Prepares to return to Ireland 441 





The rights of the City of Dublin invaded — Conduct of the Lord Chan- 
cellor on Mr. Curran's speech before the Privy Council — Adverse 
decision — Indignation of the people — Proceedings of the Whig Club, 
and their vindication in reply to the Chancellor's attack — Meeting of 
the citizens of Dublin — Their resolutions — Letters of Mr. Crattan 
to Mr. M'Can, Mr. Day, and the Rev. Edward Berwick — Mr. Foster 
chosen Speaker of the new parliament — Responsibility Bill — Mr 
Grattan's letter to Mr. Day on that subject. 

Not satisfied with his successful proceedings 
against the opposition, the Chancellor (Lord 
Clare), now sought to quell the popular spirit that 
prevailed in the metropolis, and he involved the 
Government in a squabble with the city. Alder- 
man James had been appointed Commissioner of 
the Police ; he set up as candidate for the office 
of Lord Mayor, under the patronage of the 
Government, and was chosen by the Aldermen, 
but rejected by the Commons,* who selected 
Alderman Howison, a popular individual. In 
such a case, the custom was, that the Aldermen 
should send down the name of another candidate. 
This they declined to do, and insisted that Alcler- 

* These bodies sat apart, the board of aldermen resembled the Upper 
House, the sheriffs and common councilmen the Lower; a fair represen- 
tation for the city, had they not been corrupted and prejudiced by the 




[chap. I. 

man James was elected. The approbation of the 
Privy Council being necessary to confirm the 
election of the Lord Mayor, both parties appealed 
to that body on behalf of their respective candi- 
dates. The case was argued before them, Doctor 
Duigenan defending Alderman James, and George 
Ponsonby, and Mr. Curran, Alderman Howison. 
The result was that the council sent the parties to 
a new election. 

It was on this occasion, that Mr. Curran made 
a splendid speech, in which he alluded to Lord 
Clare, and portrayed his character in colours 
which could not be mistaken, and the brilliancy 
of which will never fade. His description of Ire- 
land was spirited and patriotic ; his description of 
Lord Clare was just, eloquent and severe, and 
conveyed the most caustic satire in the most 
polished style, — which latter quality is not 
always to be found in Curran's speaking. But a 
long metaphorical invective was not perhaps the 
best mode of encountering Lord Clare. Curran 
had beforehand mentioned that he meant to attack 
him ; so that he was immediately stopped : for 
though the Lord-lieutenant (who is the head of 
that court) was present, yet Lord Clare assumed 
the right to direct, and accordingly he cleared 
the chamber. This, however, did not prevent the 
publication of the speech and the invective. But 
if Curran had pressed very hard on the legal 
opinion of the Chancellor, which in point of law 
was quite wrong, and had delivered some very 
hard sentences before he could have been stopped, 
he would have borne him down, and his success 
would have been more complete. Curran, how- 
ever, did neither. 

The Chancellor never forgave this attack ; the 
picture was too like ; there was no mistaking it, 
and in consequence he fatally revenged himself 

CHAP. I.] 



upon Curran ; for the speech cost him his chief 
practice at the bar. The judge set himself so 
sternly against the advocate, that he deprived him 
of almost all his business in chancery, and may 
be said to have driven him from his court. Even 
here, however, Curran could have gained the ad- 
vantage, if he had read ; for Lord Clare knew 
nothing profoundly. But Curran was not master 
of the business of the court, and wanted appli- 

The following extracts from this celebrated 
speech may be considered somewhat copious ; but 
they merit attention from the consequences they 
produced, and which afford a melancholy specta- 
cle ; how effectually, how cruelly, and how irre- 
sponsibly, tyranny could be exercised in Ireland, 
even in a Court of Justice. 

Speaking of the law that regulated the Corpo- 
ration, and which Mr. Grattan's father had 
brought in, — Mr. Curran observed — 

"At the time of this statute, the Lord Mayor and Alder- 
men exercised the exclusive power of election to the chief 
magistracy without any interference of the Commons. 
The immediate mischief of such a Constitution, with respect 
to the metropolis itself, I have touched on before. The 
people were borne down, the magistracy depraved, the law 
was relaxed, and public tranquillity was at an end. These 
mischiefs were more than enough to induce the citizens of 
Dublin to call loudly, as they did, upon the justice of the 
legislature for Parliamentary redress. But the wisdom of 
that legislature formed an estimate of the mischief from 
considerations that probably did not enter into the minds 
of the contending parties ; namely, from the then state of 
Ireland as an individual, and as a connected country ; as 
as an individual depressed in every thing essential to the 
support of political or civil independency, — depressed in 
common, in opulence, and in knowledge ; distracted by 
that civil and religious discord suggested by ignorance and 
bigotry, and inflamed by the artifice of a cruel policy, 
which divided in order to destroy ; conscious that liberty 
could be banished only by disunion, and that a generous 
b 2 



[chap. I. 

nation could not be completely stripped of her rights until 
one part of the people was deluded into the foolish and 
wicked idea that its freedom and consequence could be 
preserved, or supported only by the slavery or depression of 
the other : — in such a country it was peculiarly necessary to 
establish at least some few incorporated bodies, which 
might serve as great repositories of popular strength. Our 
ancestors learned from Great Britain to understand their 
use and their importance ; in that country they had been 
hoarded up with the wisest forecast, and preserved with a 
religious reverence, as an unfailing resource against those 
times of storm, in which it is the will of Providence that 
all human affairs should sometimes fluctuate ; and as such 
they had been found at once a protection to the people, and 
a security to the Crown. My lords, it is by the salutary 
repulsion of popular privilege, that the power of the mon- 
archy is supported in its sphere: withdraw that support, 
and it falls in ruin upon the people,— but it falls in a ruin 
no less fatal to itself, by which it is shivered in pieces. 

" Our ancestors must therefore have been sensible that 
the enslaved state of the corporation of the metropolis, was 
a mischief that extended its effects to the remotest borders 
of the island, In the confederated strength and the united 
councils of great cities, the freedom of the country may 
find a safeguard, which extends itself even to the remote 
inhabitant who never put his foot within their gates. 

" But, my lords, how much these considerations have been 
enforced by a view of Ireland, as a connected country, de- 
prived as it was of almost all the advantages of an here- 
ditary monarch : the father of his people, residing at a dis- 
tance, and the paternal beam reflected upon his children 
through such a variety of mediums, sometimes too languidly 
to warm them, sometimes so intensely as to consume ; a 
succession of governors differing from one another in their 
tempers, in their talents, and in their virtues, and, of 
course, in their systems of administration ; unprepared in 
general for rule by any previous institution, and utterly 
unacquainted with the people they were to govern, and 
with the men through whose agency they were to act. 

" Sometimes, my lords, it is true, a rare individual* has 
appeared among us, as if sent by the bounty of Providence, 
in compassion to human miseries, marked by that digni- 
fied simplicity of manly character, which is the mingled 
* Mr. Grattan. 



result of an enlightened understanding, and an elevated 
integrity, — commanding a respect that he laboured not to 
inspire, and attracting a confidence which it was impossible 
he could betray. It is but eight years, my lords, since we 
have seen such a man amongst us, raising a degraded 
country from the condition of a province, to the rank and 
consequence of a people worthy to be the ally of a mighty 
empire, forming the league that bound her to Great Britain, 
on the firm and honourable basis of equal liberty and a 
common fate, — 'standing and falling with the British 
Empire;' and thus stipulating for that freedom which 
alone contains the principle of her political life in the cove- 
nant of her federal connexion. 

" But how short is the continuance of these auspicious 
gleams of public sunshine! — how soon are they passed, 
and perhaps for ever ! In what rapid and fatal revolution 
has Ireland seen the talents and the virtues of such men 
give place to a succession of sordid parade and empty pre- 
tension, — of bloated promise and lank performance, — of 
austere hypocrisy and peculating economy. Hence it is, my 
lords, that the administration of Ireland so often presents 
to the reader of her history, not the view of a legitimate 
government, but rather of an encampment in the country 
of a barbarous enemy; where the object of the invader is 
not government, but conquest; where he is of course 
obliged to resort to the corrupting of clans, or of single 
individuals pointed out to his notice by public abhorrence, 
and recommended to his confidence only by a treachery so 
rank and consummate, as precludes all possibility of their 
return to private virtue or to public reliance, and therefore 
only put into authority over a wretched country, condemned 
to the torture of all that petulant, unfeeling asperity with 
which a narrow and malignant mind will bristle in un- 
merited elevation, — condemned to be betrayed, and dis- 
graced, and exhausted by the little traitors that have been 
suffered to nestle and to grow within it, making it at once 
the source of their grandeur and the victim of their vices, 
reducing it to the melancholy necessity of supporting their 
consequence, and of sinking under their crimes, like the 
lion perishing by the poison of a reptile that finds shelter 
in the mane of the noble animal while it is stinging him to 

" But to what end offer argument to such men? A little 
and a peevish mind may be exasperated, but how shall it 



[chap. I. 

be corrected by refutation? How fruitless would it have 
been to represent to that wretched Chancellor that he was 
betraying those rights which he was sworn to maintain,*' 
and that he was involving a Government in disgrace and a 
kingdom in panic and consternation; that he was violating 
every sacred duty and every solemn engagement that 
bound him to himself, his country, his sovereign, and his 
God ! Alas ! my lords, by what argument could any man 
hope to reclaim or to dissuade a mean, illiberal, and un- 
principled minion of authority, induced by hi§. profligacy 
to undertake, and bound by his avarice and vanity to per- 
severe. He would probably have replied to the most 
unanswerable arguments by some curt, contumelious, and 
unmeaning apothegm, delivered with the fretful smile of 
irritated self-sufficiency and disconcerted arrogance ; or even 
if he could be dragged by his fears to a consideration of the 
question, by what miracle could the pigmy capacity of a 
stunted pedant be enlarged to a reception of the subject? The 
endeavour to approach it would have only removed him 
to a greater distance than he was before : as a little hand 
that strives to grasp a mighty globe is thrown back by the 
reaction of its own effort to comprehend. It may be given 
to an Hale or an Hardwick to discover and retract a 
mistake ; the errors of such men are only specks that arise 
for a moment upon the surface of a splendid luminary; 
consumed by its heat, or irradiated by its light, they soon 
purge and disappear. But the perverseness of a mean and 
narrow intellect are like the excrescences that grow upon 
a body naturally cold and dark : no fire to waste them, 
and no ray to enlighten, they assimilate and coalesce with 
those qualities so congenial to their nature, and acquire an 
incorrigible permanency in the Union with kindred frost 
and kindred opacity. Nor indeed, my lords, except where 
the interest of millions can be affected by the folly or the 
vice of an individual, need it be much regretted that to 
things not worthy of being made better it hath not pleased 
Providence to afford the privilege of improvement." 

Lord Chancellor. — " Surely, Mr. Curran, a gentleman of 
your eminence in your profession must see that the conduct 
of former privy councils has nothing to do with the ques- 
tion before us. The question lies in the narrowest com- 
pass ; it is merely whether the Commons have a right of 

* Sir Constantine Phipps, whose conduct became the subject of much 



arbitrary and capricious rejection, or are obliged to assign 
a reasonable cause for their disapprobation. To that point 
you have a right to be heard ; but I hope you do not mean 
to lecture the council." 

Mr. Curran. — "I mean, my lords, to speak to the case of 
my clients, and to avail myself of every topic of defence 
which I conceive applicable to the case. I am not speak- 
ing to a dry point of law, to a single judge, and on a mere 
forensic subject ; I am addressing a very large auditory, 
consisting o£ co-ordinate members, of whom the far greater 
number are not versed in law. Were I to address such an 
audience on the interests and rights of a great city, and 
address them in the hackneyed style of a pleader, I should 
make a very idle display of profession, with very little in- 
formation to those I address, or benefit to those on whose 
behalf I have the honour to be heard. I am aware, my 
lords, that trutli is to be sought only by slow and painful 
progress; I know also that error is in its nature flippant 
and compendious; it hops with airy and fastidious levity 
over proofs and arguments, and perches upon assertion, 
which it calls conclusion."* 

The Chancellor, notwithstanding the able argu- 
ments of counsel, decided in favour of Alderman 
James, declaring "that the case must come before 
the King's Bench, and by the time that the 
Commons had amused themselves there for three 
or four years, it was probable they would be tired 
of it, and wish themselves out of the dispute." 
Such was the solemnity of his judicial decisions. 

The conduct of the Chancellor and Privy 
Council met with general disapprobation. Seve- 
ral of the minor corporations, the volunteer corps, 
and public meetings of the inhabitants upheld the 
rights of their fellow citizens, and condemned the 
decision of the Privy Council. The sheriffs and 
commons of the corporation assembled, and re- 
solved that the Privy Council were wrong in 
their decision ; that Alderman James was not 
legally elected Lord Mayor ; and they adopted 

* A just representation of the Chancellor. 



the sovereign remedy in all such cases — that of 
stopping the supplies, and voted that they would 
not pay the Government Lord Mayor any money, 
or allow any in his accounts ; and that he must 
deliver up to them the Mansion-house and the 
corporation property. 

An address was then voted to his Majesty, 
complaining of Lord Westmoreland and Lord 
Clare ; and thanks were returned to Mr. Curran 
and Mr. Ponsonby for their exertions in the Privy 
Council in favour of the rights of the people. 
The Whig Club also proceeded to pass the fol- 
lowing resolution : — 

Dublin, July 19th, 1790. 
At a meeting of the Whig Club, held this day, his Grace 
the Duke of Leinster in the chair, the following resolu- 
tion was proposed by the Right Hon. the Earl of Char- 
lemont, and seconded by the Right Hon. the Earl of 
Moira, viz. : — 

u That the Whig Club cannot possibly have witnessed 
what has lately passed respecting the election of a Lord 
Mayor, without expressing the deepest concern, and de- 
claring that they will, both individually, and as a body, 
co-operate with their fellow citizens in every legal and 
constitutional measure, which may tend to vindicate the 
laws, and to support the rights of this metropolis.'' 

Which resolution being put, the same was passed 
unanimously, and ordered to be entered on their books, 
and published. 

(Signed) Henry Grattan, Pro. Sec. 

This resolution roused the ire of the Chancellor, 
and on the 24th of July, 1790, before the Lord 
Lieutenant came to the House to prorogue 
the Parliament, he attacked the Whig Club in 
very severe terms ; and said that he was ready to 
justify his conduct on that occasion. He was 
replied to by Lord Moira and Lord Charlemont, 
who avowed the resolutions, which they said' 
they were ready to support. 

The speech of the Chancellor which contained 

CHAP. I.] 



the attack having been published, the Whig Club 
found it necessary to defend their principles. 
The vindication is strong and able, perhaps 
too personal ; but it was not on that account 
the less liked. The party had been hardly 
treated and greatly abused, and being attacked, 
it was not possible for the Club to yield; 
it was absolutely necessary they should defend 
themselves, otherwise they would have sunk in 
the country. This reply enabled them to rise and 
triumph. It was printed in pamphlets, and had 
a rapid circulation. Undoubtedly the Whig 
Club went very far. It was a political assembly 
openly watching and superintending the measures 
of Government, — a very formidable body to be 
permitted in any state. The manner, however, 
in which the Chancellor chose to attack it was 
neither Parliamentary nor Constitutional. The 
following was their reply : — 

Monday, 2nd Aug. 1790. 
At a meeting held this day the Whig Club resolved 
itself into the following committee : — 

Duke of Leinster, Mr. Grattan, 

Earl of Moira, Mr. Curran, 

Earl of Charlemont, Sir Edward Newenham, 
Earl of Arran, Mr. Egan, 

Mr. Ponsonby, Mr. Hamilton Rowan. 

The Duke of Leinster reported the resolution of the 
committee, which was accordingly read and unanimously 
agreed to, and is as follows : — 

That we have seen a publication containing various and 
extraordinary charges against the members of this society, 
comparing them to those of " porter clubs, and such like 
low and riotous meetings;" and further alleging "that 
they are persons of the grossest ignorance ; that they have 
shown that ignorance particularly in their late resolution 
on behalf of the rights of the subject, and that they have 
discovered, on this occasion, as great a perversion of sense 
as ever distracted the human brain."* 

That we should have passed by such a publication as 
* The Chancellor's speech. 



[CHAP. I. 

one of those flippant productions, which the present 
ministers of the Crown, by their writers, vilify the people, 
if said empty paper did not affect to call itself the speech 
of the Chancellor. That we could wish the composition 
had confined itself to us, and had not spread its foul con- 
tents among the Common Council of Dublin, and the 
citizens in general, on behalf of their privileges legally 
assembled. We are sorry to have given any one an occa- 
sion to aggravate their present situation, and to overwhelm 
with a torrent of abuse, men already struggling under 
great wrong. 

We cannot avoid expressing our disapprobation of such 
a malapert way of addressing the people, a disregard for 
whom, under any Government, is unwise, — under a free 
Government, graceless, — and in a minister, disqualification 
to hold the reins of power. We have not forgotten the 
gross language once before offered to the people — it was 
when they defended their country against the famous 
propositions. We flattered ourselves that we should never 
again be witness to the like froward discourse. The citi- 
zens, however, will bear with patience an evil it seems they 
only share in common with the rest of their fellow sub- 
jects : as for ourselves, observations falling from no superior 
height of public virtue, make no impression. 

The author of the publication asserts, that the act of 
council to which our resolution of the former meeting refers, 
was strictly legal ; but it is not in a free country that the 
assertion of any one man can decide. Had assertion been 
sufficient, there was not wanting prompt and flippant asser- 
tion against all your exertions. You had the assertion of 
great law officers against your declaration of right — you 
had their assertion in favour of the famous propositions — 
and you had their assertion that the King legislated in 
Ireland, as King of Great Britain, and that the British 
Parliament could make, for certain purposes, a statute 
Regent for Ireland, and that a Regent so made, could 
supersede the one appointed by your own Parliament. 
This nation paid but little regard to such assertions ; and 
whatever she has acquired in constitution and considera- 
tion, is due to her wisdom in holding such assertions, and 
the assertions thereof, as men fallible and suspicious. 

The author of the paper is made to declare, that the 
rejecting of Alderman Howison, and the approving Alder- 
man James, was a necessary act of public duty. Here we 

CHAP. I.] 


1 I 

are concerned to be obliged directly to contradict the 
author. It was not a necessary act of public duty, it was 
not necessary, however proper at that particular time, to 
approve of either, for the parties might have been sent 
back to a new election ; but if approbation of either was 
unavoidable, it was not necessary to give the preference 
in favour of Alderman James, who could not serve, and to 
reject Alderman Howison, who was legally elected. 

To prove the truth of this part of the speech, three 
things are indispensable, none of which are fact: — 1st, 
That the parties could not have been sent back to a new 
election; 2nd, That the Council could not by law approve 
of Alderman Howison. 3d, That they could not by law 
refuse Alderman James. 

On the first great part of the defence, we must then 
observe, that it is not founded in fact ; that it advances 
the plea of necessity, which notoriously did not exist, and 
that the resorting to such a plea, bespeaks in the author, 
a secret conviction, that such a proceeding can be excused 
by nothing else but the plea of necessity. From a misre- 
presentation of the fact, in the outset of the defence, the 
author of the speech proceeds to promise, that he will prove 
his point to the conviction of mankind — the most unlet- 
tered man. But first, he stops to reflect on the peers; and 
the author of the speech condemns two noble lords,* for 
expressing their sentiments on a point of right, which may 
afterwards come before them as judges. Their lordships, 
however, if they wished to shelter themselves under au- 
thority, have it, and on this very point, in the person of 
the Lord Chancellor, who did declare in the presence of the 
parties and the public, his law opinion very early on this 
very question, of which opinion the public were, by him- 
self and his friends, fully possessed, and the public is much 
deceived, if his early and erroneous opinion on this subject 
has not been the principal cause of the disgrace of the 
Government and the ferment of the city. The noble lords 
will not, however, shelter themselves under his authority ; 
they conceive that however improper to declare an early 
opinion in case of private property, yet where privileges are 
violated, where corporate rights are attacked, it is not un- 
becoming the peers of the realm to take an early part, and 
to consider themselves not merely as hereditary judges, 
but (what they value more infinitely) as hereditary free- 
* Lord Moira and Lord Charlemont. 



[CHAP. I. 

men — bound by interest — bound by affection — and now, 
by the offences of his Majesty's ministers and their con- 
tumely, bound more than ever to make common cause 
with their countrymen ; they should have thought they 
betrayed the liberties of their country, if they had waited 
for three years, # the term idly prescribed to the citizens to 
amuse themselves in the courts of justice ; and we say for 
ourselves, without presuming to dictate to others, that 
whenever the ministers of the Crown shall, as in the pre- 
sent case, attack the rights of the people, we shall always 
be forthcoming — uniting with our fellow subjects in com- 
mon defence and common danger. 

The author of the speech proceeds to give the public, on 
the present question, historic information, and informs us, 
that the right of electing the Lord Mayor was vested, by 
bye-laws, in the board of Aldermen solely. We know it ; 
and we further know, and from this admission are in- 
structed to collect, that the Commons were, by force of 
those bye-laws, ousted of that share in the election of the 
Lord Mayor which they had before under charters ; and it 
is an addition to the case of the Commons, that they now 
desire nothing but what they have already, by express Act 
of Parliament, and until ousted, as is now confessed, by 
force of bye-laws, had originally by charter. 

The author of the speech informs us, that it was by the 
new rules,f the Lord Lieutenant and Council got the right 
of approbation, but he adds, that they got no judicial 
power; however, we cannot forget on a late occasion, that 
they displayed some things much resembling the exercise 
of a judicial power, when the Chancellor limited the law- 
yers to speak to the abstract point of law, and when the 
books of the corporation were sent for and examined, and 
the corporators interrogated, touching their tests and 
engagements ; however, it is not for us to reconcile this 
parade and judicial authority, with the opinion of the 
author of the speech denying the Council any judicial 
power ; it is sufficient to say, that the observation has no- 
thing to do with the question. The question not being 
whether the Lord Lieutenant and Council have given an 
erroneous judgment, but whether they have not committed 
an arbitrary and illegal act. 

The author of the speech now approaches the point, 
* Expressions of the Chancellor in giving his decision, 
t Passed in the time of Charles II. 

CHAP. I.] 



and states, that the Council has not only no judicial power, 
but no power to judge of the legality of the election. 
Here a^ain we find it impossible to reconcile the opinion of 
the author with the proceedings of the Council ; for the 
Council, and the Chancellor in particular, as a member of 
that Council, did examine publicly, and in the presence of 
the parties, into the merits of the election, and the conduct 
of the ballot, and limited the lawyers to the abstract point 
of law, and interrogated the common councilmen, and ex- 
plored the books and minutes of the corporations and 
common council, and inquired into the tests taken by the 
different corporations, or said to be taken against electing 
of police magistrates; all which was, as we conceive, in- 
quiring into facts, and an insistance on matter which could 
relate to nothing but the legality of the election, of which 
the author now asserts the Council had no authority to 

The author of the speech proceeds, and explains what 
power the Council have, and states it to be a power to ap- 
prove of the man who has, prima facie, the best title. Now 
the only title any man can have is legal election, and the 
only way of judging who has, prima facie, the best title, is 
to exercise some degree of judgment on the legality of his 
election ; unless the author of the speech would say that 
the Lord Lieutenant and Council had decided that Alder- 
man James had the best prima facie title, without exercis- 
ing in fact any judgment whatever on the subject. Thus 
does the author stand in flat contradiction to himself, and 
thus does he impeach all those proceedings which he 
affects to defend. We might well agree with the author, 
that the council have only a power to return who, prima 
facie, has the best title ; we might add, they are obliged so 
to do ; and we complain that they rejected that Alderman, 
who, prima facie, was elected, and approved of that Alder- 
man, who, prima facie, was rejected, and decided not only 
against the right, but the colourable title, in favour of the 
man who had neither. 

We have not forgotten, that the Chancellor declared, to 
the lawyers, " 'tis true, on a superficial reading of the Act 
of Parliament, the words will bear out the construction of 
the Commons." 

The author proceeds, and explains still further the 
powers of the council, and says that the council is confined 
to a single object, and professing to exemplify a single 



[chap. I. 

object, he states two. The first he states is disaffection ; 
the other personal disability. Personal disability is legal 
incapacity — disaffection a wicked perversion of mind — 
good cause for a complete exclusion from office, but which 
can work no legal incapacity, until brought into action. 
Thus the author either confounds legal disability with dis- 
affection, or he asserts, that the Lord Lieutenant and 
Council have a power to inquire into the question of legal 
disability, which relates merely to those merits, and that 
right, that the same author has just alleged belonged ex- 
clusively to another judicature, — the courts of law. 

The author has stated, that the council derive their 
power under the new rules, — and the new rules are con- 
ceived in the words of the 33d of Geo. II. under which the 
common council derives its power. The author states dis- 
affection to be the single object for the inquiry of the 
Privy Council; it remained for him to prove disaffection to 
be merely a law question, of corporate incapacity, or to 
allow that the common council was not confined to that 
law question, by the Act of Parliament ; and so give up 
the opinion advanced by the Chancellor. The author 
seems aware of the difficulty, and he therefore enumerates 
two distinct objects, disaffection and legal incapacity as 
one and the same, committing a solecism in terms, to 
secure a studied confusion in sense. 

The speech informs us, that in a double return, to ap- 
prove of one, has always been a matter of course ; here we 
are again sorry to be obliged directly to contradict the 
author of the speech ; it has not been a matter of course — 
it has been common to approve of neither — it has been 
common to send back the parties to a new election — it was 
the case in 1763 — it was the case twice this very year. But 
even though the author of the speech should not have 
been wrong, as he is, in point of fact, yet he would remain 
wrong in point of argument. To make out his defence, it 
is not sufficient to prove it a matter of course to approve of 
one of the parties ; he must show it to be a matter of indif- 
ference which, whether the man who is legally elected, or 
the man who is by law disqualified ; or rather, indeed, he 
must go farther for a precedent, and show it to be a matter 
of course to approve of the latter, that is, the man dis- 
qualified by law. 

The author of the speech informs us, that the Council 
cannot decide the point of law — we acknowledge it, but 

CHAP. I.] 



we did not want the interposition of the author to give that 
information. But though the author informs us there is 
redress at law, yet the person whose name he assumes has 
also informed us that " such redress would be a grievance, 
and that the city, after amusing itself for three years in the 
courts of justice, would be heartily sick of the experiment." 
Our respect for decency prevents us from going so far as 
to cast a damp and despondency on appealing to the law 
of the land, yet we do agree that the forcing the city to 
that appeal was a very great injury, because the redress 
might be very tedious — the interim might be very dis- 
turbed, and the period of the mayoralty expire before the 
point could be settled. 

There is a further objection — could we suppose the 
courts of law capable of a criminal decision, we have a 
ministry disposed to give them protection. 

The author of the speech would teach us to believe, that 
the Chief Governor and Council decided in favour of Alder- 
man James merely to put the question in course of trial ; 
we are to understand, then, that there was no partiality in 
the Administration; that the castle, or the rash advisers of 
the castle, have espoused no faction in the city. When 
once the author of the speech can prove this, he will then, 
and not till then, have supported his credit for the veracity 
of this suggestion. 

The author of the speech proceeds and says, that it re- 
mained for the sagacity of the Irish Whigs, to turn a 
mere right of approbation into a judicial power; but we 
must observe, that it remained for the ingenuity and tem- 
per of the author, to discover wherein the Whigs have made 
that confusion ; for certainly in the resolution alluded to, 
they have not. We insert the resolution that the public 
may judge. 

" That the Whig Club cannot possibly have witnessed 
what has lately passed respecting the election of a Lord 
Mayor, without expressing the deepest concern, and de- 
claring that they will, both individually, and as a body, 
co-operate with their fellow citizens in every legal and con- 
stitutional measure, which may tend to vindicate the laws, 
and to support the rights of this metropolis." 

We must observe, that the principal charge of ignorance, 
was founded, as appears in the speech, on this, our sup- 
posed confusion, of the right of approbation with a judicial 
power: here is the resolution, wherein appears not one 



[chap. I. 

syllable to justify the comment, and hence the public will 
collect two things. First, the great and manifest presump- 
tion of the author, in making in so gross a manner so 
unfounded a charge. Secondly, his great and unparalleled 
folly, and temerity, in making that resolution the charge, 
when by the mere republication he could be so fully, so 
publicly, and so shamefully convicted. 

In order to account for his observation, we must sup- 
pose the author of the publication to conceive that the 
charge of violating the laws implies, of itself, the exercising 
a judicial power; but the crime of dispensing with the 
laws, has not been confined to great lawyers exercising 
judicial power— the author of the speech might have read 
how James II. had dispensed with the Test Act, without 
resorting to the exercise of judicial power, but by mere 
executive act; he had 'tis true, the assistance of a great 
judicial character, his famous Chancellor, a great lawyer, 
and a melancholy proof, that the most dangerous instru- 
ment in the hand of oppression, is an arbitrary man, hurried 
away by a criminal disregard for his fellow citizens, and 
armed with the little points of his profession, to pervert the 
science of the law, and to assail the liberties of the people. 

We have observed upon and examined the principal part 
of this poor and positive production — that affects to call 
itself the speech of the Chancellor. The public will judge 
whether it contains that extent of genius, solidity of 
argument, and profundity of sense, to justify a modest man 
in pronouncing that he would completely, and to the most 
unlettered person, convince the whole community. 

We must observe, that in one point the author of the 
speech has shown diffidence ; it is the only point in which 
confidence had been a proof of firmness, or an evidence of 
innocence, viz. the point in question, whether by the Act 
of Parliament the common council is obliged to assign 
corporate incapacity as ground of rejection : on the affirma- 
tive of this depends the innocence of the order of Council ; 
and here the author has hung back. He allows that he 
has examined this point as much as any that ever came 
before him ; he had three months to investigate it. The 
Government has taken a decided part, — the city has been 
put in a ferment — the administration overwhelmed in dis- 
grace — and now, it seems, the author will not venture to 
speak to the question, — and only diffidently tells us, that 
it did appear to him that Alderman James had the best 

CHAP. I.] 



colour of election ;— that from what he has heard hitherto, 
James has the best claim, without venturing to assign a 
single reason for such an opinion, or advancing one sylla- 
ble in support of that novel construction which he must 
feel has involved us in such a train of consequences. We 
leave it to the public to decide whether this reserve in the 
author proceeds from moderation or defect. 

We do not think it necessary now to go at large into the 
argument ; but as, from the speech under our considera- 
tion, no trace whatever of the merits of the question ap- 
pears, we think it proper to state from the Act of the 33rd 
of Geo. II. the following obvious inferences: — That by the 
Act no man can be mayor of the city who is rejected by the 
Commons ; that the right of rejection in the Commons is 
co-extensive with the right of election in the board, both 
being limited by one and the some proviso, which only 
requires that the board shall elect, and the Commons ap- 
prove of some one of the board, — and subject to that pro- 
viso leaves both equally free; that there is not in the 
whole Act one single syllable requiring the Commons to 
assign corporate incapacities, the ground of rejection ; — 
that the ballot clause makes such an assignment of reasons 
impracticable, and illegal; that such assignment is a new 
requisite, created by construction, to impose a forfeiture of 
the benefit of the act, contrary to the principles of criminal 
jurisprudence; that the proceedings of the privy council, 
under the new rules, which are conceived in nearly the 
same terms as the Act of Parliament, without the strong 
circumstance of the ballot, are a precedent against this 
doctrine, for the Council does not assign corporate incapa- 
cities as a ground of rejection. 

That the spirit and meaning of the Act is against it, 
which must be defeated by such construction, inasmuch as 
such a construction would take from the Commons the 
right of rejecting; for if they could reject no man but one 
who laboured under corporate incapacities, they could 
reject no man that was not before ineligible, and who could 
not be flavor, though the Commons approved ; and all the 
other aldermen elected by the board must be Mayors, 
though the Commons rejected them. There is every reason 
to believe that there is scarcely to be found at present one 
alderman that labours under a corporate incapacity; of 
course, under this construction, there is not one alderman 
whom the Commons could refuse. This construction, 

vol. iv. c 



[CHAP. I. 

therefore, for so much, makes the Act of Parliament a 

We, therefore, with all due deference to legal authority, 
when it shall keep itself within the bounds of law and 
decorum, have republished our resolutions, and beg leave 
to add, that the act of the Council, to which we do ac- 
knowledge the Lord Chancellor, and we are sorry to see it, 
has put his hand, is an arbitrary act — imposing on the 
city, as far as it can have effect, an illegal magistrate, and 
depriving the common council of Dublin of a right they 
derive under Act of Parliament. 

The author of the speech puts a question — Who most 
invade the laws, the Lord Lieutenant and Council, or they 
who appeal to the Whig Club 1 Since we are called upon, 
we answer, the Lord Lieutenant and Council. The Lord 
Lieutenant and Council, says the author of the speech, 
who send the matter to a legal decision ? They do so, we 
allow it. They oblige the party, by an arbitrary act, to 
seek redress at law, as any man who commits a violence 
on another may be said to send the matter to a legal de- 
cision. But we never heard it pleaded as a proof of the 
defendant's regard for the law, that he had, by an assault 
on the plaintiff, sent the matter to a legal decision. This 
puerile interrogatory is calculated to move our scorn. 

We confess we have not forced the citizens to such a 
tribunal, for we have not injured them; but so far from 
dissuading from seeking legal redress, we are ready to 
assist the City in demanding it. 

We associated to preserve the laws and constitution 
against the attacks of the present administration, who 
invaded both, and who were pronounced to have done so 
by Parliament. We associated when the privileges of both 
Houses had been questioned. When the Minister was 
exhorted by his unconstitutional adviser to insult the legis- 
lature ; — when the two Houses pronounced that Minister 
and his advisers to be arbitrary and unconstitutional men ; 
— when a number of new places, pensions, and salaries 
were created, for the purpose of corrupting Parliament; — 
when peerages were sold for procuring money to be ex- 
pended in the purchase of seats for the dependents of the 
Castle, in the assembly of the people ; — when the liberty 
of the press, and the personal liberty of the subject, by 
holding him to arbitrary and excessive bail, were attacked; 
—when we had a Minister ready to screen such attack 

CHAP. I.] 



from Parliamentary inquiry ; — when a Place Bill, a Pen- 
sion Bill, and every other constitutional bill made necessary 
by the corruption of the present Ministers, were rejected 
by their influence : — when these things took place, we 
assembled — we assembled when the nation was told (by 
authority) that in order to defeat the opposition of the 
aristocracy in Parliament, the Minister had, in the Govern- 
ment of the Marquis of Townshend, expended half a mil- 
lion, and that in order to defeat the present aristocracy, must 
expend another half-million, which was to inform us, that 
the nation had been by his Majesty's Ministers bought and 
sold, and must be bought and sold again. 

We appeal to the people of England, whether, if they 
were informed by a great officer of state that their country 
had been bought and sold for half a million, and must be 
so again, to carry the Minister triumphantly through Par- 
liament ; whether they would not, like us, have associated 
in common defence : and if the people of this country, 
being once possessed of this alarming and dreadful secret, 
have gone no further than bearing their humble testimony 
against Ministers, it is because the people are not as rash 
as those Ministers, either in their conduct or declaration. 

That we have been charged by the author of the speech 
with the crime of looking to power, we make no assertion. 
Instead of assertion we set forth the following measures, to 
which we are all pledged : — 

A Place Bill, a Pension Bill, a Bill to repeal or modify 
the City Police Bill, a Bill to restrain the Minister from 
arbitrarily extending the Country Police, a Responsibility 
Bill, a Bill to disqualify the dependent Officers of the 
Revenue from voting for Members of Parliament. We are 
pledged to disallow the corrupt charges of the Marquis of 
Buckingham and his successor. We are pledged against 
the sale of peerages, and for the liberty of the press, and 
the personal liberty of the subject against arbitrary and il- 
legal bail. We are pledged to the principles whereon the 
late Parliament addressed his Royal Highness the Prince 
of Wales to take on himself the Regency, and against the 
assertions and principles that advanced and maintained, in 
the appointment of a Regent, the authority of the Parlia- 
ment of another country, and would have denied to the 
Irish Crown its legislative power, and of course its imperial 
dignity. We are pledged against an Union; we are pledged 
against the memorable Propositions; and we are now 
c 2 


pledged to oppose the misconstruction or the alteration of 
the Act of the 33rd of Geo. II., whereby the Commons of 
this city have a peremptory right of rejection, which pe- 
remptory right we will support. If anything is here omitted, 
it will be found in our original declaration; and we have 
already appointed a committee to procure copies of the bills 
already mentioned, that the country may, if she pleases, 
adopt them, or at least may know how far and how specifi- 
cally we are embarked in her interest. We have no personal 
animosity; but should any of the Ministers of the Crown 
attempt to trample on the people, we are ready to defend 
them. We conclude — 

Resolved, That the affectionate and respectful thanks 
of this body be returned to the Earl of Moira and the Earl 
of Charlemont, for their spirited and dignified avowal of 
the part which they have taken in our deliberations and 
resolutions ; and for the truly patriotic regard which their 
Lordships have shewn for the invaded privileges of their 
fellow-citizens, and for their zealous support of the law of 
the land. 

Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to sit during 
the vacation, to correspond with the members of this and 
other societies, and to prepare such measures as may be 
rendered necessary to defend our principles and our cha- 
racter ; with a power to assemble this club on any emer- 
gency, to submit said measures to them for their consider- 
ation, on giving due notice. 

(Signed) Henry Grattan, Pro Sec. 

All these proceedings of the Chancellor served 
only to rouse the spirit of the citizens. They 
immediately assembled, and appointed some of 
the ablest of their body to examine into the case 
of the Lord Mayor, and adopted at a full meeting 
the report given in the Appendix,* which cor- 
rectly details the measures taken by the Govern- 
ment, and sets forth the complaints of the people ; 
it is a very important public document. 

Mr. Conolly being absent, the office of Secre- 
tary to the Whig Club was filled by Mr. Grattan, 
who occasionally discharged its duties, until Mr. 

* See Appendix, No. I. 

CHAP. I.] 



Ross M'Can was appointed. This individual was 
the friend and confidential agent of Mr. Grattan. 
His name will appear hereafter connected with 
some important occurrences. He was a public- 
spirited, and tender-hearted man, a faithful and 
an honest Irishman, and warmly attached to Mr. 
Grattan, — of whom, however, he used humorously 
to observe that " lie was the best patriot, but the 
worst patron/' The following letters shew the 
intimacy that subsisted between them. 


Friday Night. 

Mr. M'Can, — If you don't come on Sunday, I'll make 
a motion in the Club that Ogilvie* be appointed Secretary 
in your place, with all the great profits, salaries, and emolu- 
ments annexed to that wealthy place I ! Be so good as not 
to write a miserable lame apology, but come. 

Yours, H. Grattan. 

Let me know how Lord Charlemont is. I don't think 
he was well the other day. 



Dear M'Can, — You promise to come to see me often ; but 
you break your promise. That is the only instance in 
which you appear to have become a courtier. Yours truly, 

H. Grattan. 

Mr. Day was now appointed Chairman of Ses- 
sions for the county of Dublin, and on the occasion 
Mr. Grattan wrote to him in the following jocose 
style : — 


My Dear Day, Tinnehinch, ]3th July, 1790. 

You are an ass. Were you engaged to your Kilmainham 
friends — dinner in haste before your host was hanged by 
your own decree? I suppose you get many dinners of this 
sort: — " Mr. O'Murder's compliments to Justice Day — 
hopes for his company the day before he is hanged — any 
time after will be too late." Will you come on Sunday, 
and fix a party with Broome and me to the mountain ? 

Yours ever, H. Grattan. 
* Mr. Ogilvie, who was married to the Duchess of Leinster. 



[CHAP. I. 


Merrion Square, \bth July, 1790. 
My Dear Grattan, 
I don't see, because I prefer my Lord Westmoreland's 
company to yours, that I must therefore be an ass. You 
may call that good reasoning ; but a logician would say it 
was a lion sequitur. Had I, indeed, been apprised in time 
that the " phrenzy rolling eye" of Napper* was to be at the 
board, I might have been an ass between two bundles of 
hay, — divided between the representative of his Majesty, 
and the representative of the majesty of the people. If I 
can escape out of Kilmainham, you may expect me on 
Sunday, and of the mountain party. Ever yours, 

Robert DAY.f 

The resolutions of the Whig Club embraced the 
principal point that the members of the opposition 
had long contended for in Parliament, and they 
received very general circulation. They appeared 
under the title of " Whig Vindication," and gave 
rise to several pamphlets in reply. They were 
submitted to Mr. Grattan, as appears from the 
letters to Mr. M'Can and Mr. Berwick. The 
latter was chaplain to the Earl of Moira, and con- 
nected with Mr. Grattan by intermarriage with 
the daughter of his early acquaintance and relative, 
Mr. Bermingham. He was a public-spirited, 
liberal-minded individual, possessed a great sense 
of humour and a charming temper. He was an 
excellent classical scholar, and the author of 

* This was James Napper Tandy, who, before this period had taken 
a very active part in politics, and who took a more active and unfortu- 
nate one afterwards. He had been elected master of the corporation of 
merchants, and had rendered himself popular by his efforts on behalf of 
the citizens of Dublin, on the election of the Lord Mayor, and was in- 
vited by the Lord-Lieutenant. 

f Since these pages have gone to press, this excellent and humane 
man has ceased to exist. He died at his seat near Dublin, at the age of 
98. I saw him shortly before his death, in full possession of his facul- 
ties. He was reading a manuscript volume of English History that he 
had compiled, and on turning to the part relating to Jeffries, he broke 
out into expressions of horror at such a man polluting the bench of 
justice, — "that monster in a human form!" It would have been well if 
such had been the sentiments of some of the former judges in Ireland. 

CHAP. I.] 



several productions, which shew his taste and 
research. He was mild, charitable, and humane; 
and, at the period of the insurrection of 1798, 
shewed a disposition becoming a man and a 
Christian, at that time a circumstance of no ordi- 
nary occurrence. His acquaintance with the 
Moira family and his connexion with Mr. Grattan 
led him into much intercourse with the opposition. 
Mr. Preston the poet, Joseph Cooper Walker, 
author of " Tracts upon Ireland," Mr. Hardy, Mr. 
Curran, Mr. Berwick, and Mr. Grattan, formed 
altogether a circle which shed a lustre on private 
society, softened the asperity of party, and wore 
off the hard habits of the politicians ; they often 
assembled at Tinnehinch, and there are many who 
even now may recollect the agreeable hours passed 
in that society, which united taste and talent, 
public spirit and public virtue. 


Harrowgate, Aug. Wth, 1790. 

Dear M'Can, 
Send me the Evening Post regularly, and also any news. 
I think the Whig publication still wants correction, before 
it is published, as our Resolutions were in a distinct paper 
circulated to the Members. Some further corrections 
should be made : in the line, " Superior height of public 
virtue," superior should be omitted ; however, I have some 
doubts. There are some other alterations : in the line, 
Men fallible and suspicious," men should be omitted. 
Talk to Lord Charlemont about it. Yours ever, 

H. G. 

I just got the Irish papers. What do they say of our 
Resolutions ? 


Harrowgate, Sept. 3rd, 1790. 

My Dear Sir, 
Thanks to you for your kind letters and their contents. I 
am glad to find the Whig vindication 5 * has made an im- 

* Mr. T. W. Tone in his memoirs, published in America, relates the 
following occurrence in reference to this public document : — Mr. Wogan 



[CHAP. I. 

pression ; sure I am at present it is necessary to make 
some impression, otherwise the administration will tread 

Browne, here alluded to, was a public-spirited, active individual, who 
always supported the liberal cause, and was very useful in upholding 
the independence of the county of Dublin, at a very trying election 
on behalf of the Talbot family, when the present Lord Talbot was re- 
turned one of its representatives to serve in the Imperial Parliament. 

"August 4th, 1790, Wogan Browne, Esq., foreman of the grand jury 
of the county of Kildare, sent down this evening to the bar-room, a 
newspaper, of the 3d, containing the resolutions of the Whig Club, in 
answer to a printed speech, purporting to be that of the Chancellor on 
the election of Alderman James. It was enclosed in the following 
letter : ' Mr. Wogan Browne presents his compliments to the gentlemen 
of the bar; he encloses therein this day's paper, which he has just now 
received; he requests they will return it to him, and hopes they will 
find in the vindication of the Whig Club, principles similar to his own; 
as honest and blunt men must look up to talents for the support of their 
most undenied rights, in times when they are so shamefully invaded/ 
— This bold and manly epistle struck the bar of a heap. The father, a 
supporter of opposition in Parliament, was here only solicitous how he 
should escape giving an answer; which indeed, every man save one or 
two, seemed desirous to shift on his neighbour. Burne* and Burrowesf 
were decided to meet the letter boldly ; Brownrigg and Espinasse for 
taking no further notice than acknowledging the receipt; the first, on 
the principle of preserving the harmony of the bar; the latter for some 
time, could assign no reason for his opinion, other than that he did not 
know who Mr. Browne was; but at length when pressed, he said with 
equal candour and liberality, that 'he did not like to receive anything 
from a reformed papist.' The general sense seemed to be for something 
in reply which should be .perfectly insipid ; I grew out of patience and 
proposed, I confess, without hope of its being adopted, a resolution to the 
following purport : — ' That the Leinster Bar, in common with the Whig 
Club, and many other respectable societies, felt the warmest indignation 
and abhorrence at the late unconstitutional proceedings of the Privy 
Council in the election of Alderman James, — proceedings no less for- 
midable to the liberties of the capital than alarming to every city in the 
kingdom, — as forming part of a system evidently subversive of their 
franchises, whether established by custom, charter, or the established 
law of the land.' 

" This resolution, the majority seemed determined to conceive that I 
was not serious in; yet 1 was : however, being utterly hopeless of sup- 
port, I did not press it. Two or three civil notes were proposed, of 
which the following by Rochford may serve as a sample . — ' The Leinster 
Bar present their compliments to Mr. Wogan Browne, and are thankful 
to him for his obliging communication of this day's paper, which they 
have the honour of returning.' 

" However, the sense of shame in the majority was too high to admit so 
milky a composition, and at length, after much irregular scuffling, the 
following was adopted as an answer: 'The Leinster Bar return their 

* A liberal minded and constitutional lawyer. 

f Mr. Peter Burrowes, the distinguished advocate, and on all occa- 
sions, the friend of public liberty. 




down the people, in all their orders and decrees — Dukes, 
Earls, and Commons; it is not rank, but office, that is now 
necessary to consecrate the subject against the levelling 
principle of Ministerial insolence. I like the preface 
much ; it was necessary, and is useful and pointed. I 
have not read the defences — neither the one which you 
sent me, nor the other published in some of the papers of 
Dublin and London ; but I looked into both, and saw 
refutable matter in abundance. One would think from 
both that animadversion on a judicial character is an un- 
expiable offence ; but that animadversions by that judicial 
character made on other judicial characters, and on the 
whole body of the people, is an extraordinary virtue. The 
publications ought to be answered, otherwise they will give 
cause to boast. The Castle will say they were unanswer- 
able, not contemptible. Besides, it is much better for us 
that the subject should not be dropped. The Chancellor 
is, I believe, vexed ; but could he expect to abuse us as a 
pack of blockheads, and not to meet retaliation ? I wish 
you would speak to M'Can, that no publication should 
come out in answer until well considered. 

Since I wrote the above, I have read the pamphlet, and 
am very glad it has been written, because it gives a great 
opportunity and a great opening. The law part is a beg- 
ging of the question in every position. I don't think it 
can make any impression, because it is too drowsy to read, 
as well as too illogical to convince. The only chance it 
has of being read, is being preserved in the answer to it. 

If you see M'Can, tell him the newspapers are to be 
directed to Buxton, Derbyshire. M'Can writes in high 
spirits, and says we are very popular. Yours ever, 

H. Grattan, 

Is Lord Rawdon gone to England ? 
The new Parliament had assembled on the 2nd 
July, 1790, when Mr. Conolly proposed Mr. Wm. 

thanks to Mr. Wogan Browne for his early communication of the reso- 
lutions of the Whig Club. However, individually, a majority of the 
gentlemen present may approve of the spirit of those resolutions, yet as 
many respectable members are absent, the bar as a body, do not feel 
themselves authorized to give any further opinion on the subject of Mr. 
Browne's letter/ The words, 4 majority of gentlemen present,' being 
objected to by Mr. Moore, produced a division to ascertain the point, 
when nine were for continuing, and five were for expunging them. 
"N.B. Such is the public spirit and virtue of the Leinster Bar.'* 


Ponsonby as Speaker ; but the choice fell on Mr. 
Foster, who was proposed by Major Hobart, and 
again elected without a division. The speech 
from the throne communicated the intelligence of 
two British vessels having been captured by the 
Spaniards off the American coast, and their crews 
imprisoned. The answer to this speech by the 
House of Commons was remarkable for the una- 
nimity it displayed, and the determination to 
support the British connexion and British Consti- 
tution. In this sentiment Mr. Grattan and the 
leaders of the opposition fully joined. Parliament 
was then prorogued, and did not meet till the 
ensuing year. 

Mr. Grattan, whose mind was always active, 
now sought for information on the subject which 
his friend Mr. Forbes had undertaken to manage, 
viz. the Responsibility Bill. In Ireland, the 
minister was not responsible. Impeachment, or 
an address to the Crown, was the only mode of 
punishing political delinquents. Mr. Forbes pre- 
pared a bill to remedy this omission, and hence 
the desire expressed by Mr. Grattan in the sub- 
joined letter. 


Tinnehinch, 24th Dec, 1790. 

My Dear Day, 
What acts in Ireland are done by the authority of the sign 
manual ? Are not all commissions in the army under the 
sign manual ? Is not the commission or patent of the 
Lord-lieutenant under the sign manual ? I know it is 
under the great seal of England ; but is it not also under 
the sign manual, as an order to the privy seal, which is an 
order to the great seal? With secrecy and certainty, as 
soon as possible, find out for me the above questions. 
Why I enjoin secrecy I'll tell you this day, when I expect 
to see you at dinner. Most sincerely yours, 

H. Grattan. 

Don't omit to come to me to-day. 




For the appointment of a Lord -lieu tenant there first 
passes a patent in England, and then there comes over to 
Ireland a King's letter, signed at the top of the page (i. e. 
superscribed) with the King's sign manual, and under- 
signed by the Secretary of State of England, directed to 
the Lord-lieutenant or Lords Justices, directing him or 
them to prepare patents under the great seal of the king- 
dom of Ireland. This King's letter is transmitted to the 
Attorney or Solicitor General, or in their absence, to any 
of the King's counsel, to prepare what is called the Fiant 
for passing the patent. When signed by them, or any of 
them, it goes to the Signet Office, that is, to the Office of 
the Secretary of State. After it is there signed, it goes to 
the Hanaper Office, and the clerk prepares an engrossment 
of the patent, which is transmitted to the Chancellor's 
secretary, and by him laid before the Chancellor, who puts 
the great seal to it. From thence it goes to the Rolls 
Office, where it is enrolled, there being a provision con- 
tained in all patents that they are to be void if not enrolled 
within six months. 

Commissions in the army are superscribed by the King's 
sign manual, and undersigned by the Secretary at War. 



Meeting of Parliament, January, 1791 — Speeches of Mr. Ponsonby and 
Mr. Grattan — Character and conduct of Lord Westmoreland — Public 
feeling in Ireland — Dinner by the Whigs of the capital — Resolutions 
of the Volunteers — Decree of Louis XVI. in favour of toleration — 
French revolution — French principles in Ireland — Question of Ro- 
man Catholic Emancipation — Effect of the penal laws — Edmund 
Burke's writings in favour of the Catholics — 111 treatment of the 
Catholics by the Government — Their communication with the Whig 
Club — Lord Kenmare's address to the Lord-lieutenant. — Address of 
the "Sixty-eight" — People disapprove of both addresses — Conduct of 
the Opposition — Meeting of Parliament, January, 1792 — Mr. Grat- 
tan's speech — Remarkable eulogy on Dean Kirwan — Account of 
his charity sermons. 

Parliament met on the 20th January, 1791. 
The speech from the throne announced that the 
rupture between Spain and England had been 
amicably adjusted* but stated nothing further of 
importance. The Opposition renewed their en- 
quiries respecting the corrupt proceedings of the 
late Government. Mr. Ponsonby moved, on the 
3rd of February, to enquire into the pensions and 
additional salaries granted by Government. Mr. 
Grattan seconded the motion, which was rejected 
by 117 to 56. 

Such a majority at the outset of a new Parlia- 
ment, and one of its first votes, augured ill for the 
reformation of abuses and the improvement in the 
system of Government. Mr. Isaac Corry appeared 
on this occasion as a defender of the Marquess of 

On the 8th of February, Mr. Grattan renewed 
his motion respecting the sale of peerages, and 
moved for a Committee to prove the fact. On that 
occasion, Mr. Ponsonby said — 


" If gentlemen are unwilling to risk their reputation by 
instituting an enquiry on the ground of common fame, I 
will state to them what they will consider sufficient ground 
for this enquiry — a member of this house standing up and 
asserting that he had good reason to believe that peerages 
have been sold. This, Mr. Speaker, the gentlemen oppo- 
site will acknowledge to be good ground for enquiry. Sir, 
I am that man. I say I have good reason to believe that 
peerages have been sold for money ; nay, more, I have proof , 
Go into a Committee; and if I do not establish my charge, 
degrade me ; let me no longer enjoy the character of an 
honest man. I dare the administration to it. / risk my 
reputation on establishing the fact." 

The motion was strongly opposed by the Govern- 
ment,* though the facts therein stated were con- 
fidently offered to be established in proof by the 
chief members of the Opposition; but it was 
defeated by a majority of 135 to 81. 

The question respecting the East India trade 
was revived, and an effort to open that extensive 
commerce to Ireland was again made, but in 
vain. The motion to that effect, proposed by 
Mr. Ponsonby, was lost by 143 to 86. The 
Barren Land Bill, by Mr. Grattan, and the Pen- 
sion and Responsibility Bills, by Mr. Forbes, 
were proposed, but without success. The object 
of the latter bill was to have some responsible 
men to disburse the public money, as in Eng- 
land, where no charges or drafts could be issued 
except by individuals whose signatures made 
them responsible to the public ; whereas in Ire- 
land the Lord-lieutenant could issue the money, 
signing the warrant at the top, and the Secretary 
at the bottom, neither of whom afforded sufficient 
responsibility. This debate lasted till near four 
o'clock on Sunday morning, and the second read- 
ing was rejected by 131 to 64. The following are 

* Mr. Barrington, author of the u History of the Union," appears to 
have made as strong a speech in favour of Government as he afterwards 
cMd at a subsequent period against them. 



Mr. GrattarTs remarks : — they apply to later 
times also, than those in which they were made. 

" Sir, those gentlemen have most ignorantly foretold 
what would be the Government under this bill. I will tell 
these gentlemen most truly what is now the Irish Govern- 
ment without it What is their situation ? A set of men 
excluded in their native land from power and control, 
privileged only to submit their objections, without any 
authority to stop the crime they complain of. This exclu- 
sion from all control in the disbursement of money, makes 
them a cypher. That control, exclusively placed in the 
Lord-lieutenant's secretary, his Excellency and certain 
English officers, makes them your masters, and the Secre- 
tary on that bench your idol. It is no longer control, — it 
is command : it is this command that makes him more 
formidable than the thunder of Demosthenes, and more per- 
suasive than Tully ; or, if the name of Solomon delight 
him more, Solomon in all his glory, sitting among his state 
concubines. See at the feet of a young lad the tributes of 
a degraded court. See prostrate at his feet the wisdom of 
age and the flame of youth, — the grey head of experience, 
the country gentleman's shattered mask, and the veteran 
Crown lawyers' prostituted conscience and howling re- 
morse. Even the virtues which this man don't entirely 
destroy, he disgraces — he humbles the energies of your 
mind, and contracts the exertions of your talents. He not 
only humbles your virtues, he degrades your vices, and 
gives them a poorer cast ; so that you lose the high 
mettle which sometimes mixes with human infirmity, dig- 
nifies the nature of vice, and makes ambition virtue. ' You 
do not make this man a Colossus ; but he makes you 
pigmies, and both lose your natural proportion — he, his 
natural inferiority, and you, your natural superiority in 
your native land. Thus you stand on your own hills 
blasted by a shrub which scalds your growth, and di- 
minishes and dwarfs what else might become the tree of 
the forest, and make the realm illustrious." 

The session of 1791 concluded on the 5th of 
May, and Parliament was shortly after prorogued. 
The Opposition seemed disposed to give every 
fair opportunity to Government ; they had made 
no violent motions, nor suggested any new or 


extravagant questions ; nor had they incited the 
Roman Catholics to urge on their claims. They 
did not seek to embarrass the Government; but 
having set forth their principles, they left to those 
in power the carrying into effect such measures as 
might appear to be of public utility. No friendly 
disposition was manifested, however, by the 
Ministry. They delayed all their concessions* 
till the time had passed in which they would 
have been received by the people with gratitude 
and satisfaction. 

Lord Westmoreland, who should never have 
been sent to Ireland, was a person quite incom- 
petent to hold the reins of power, and seemed 
more fitted to guide a chariot than to govern a 
country. His mind was of an inferior grade ; 
it belonged not to the Court — not to the drawing- 
room — not even to the parlour. When he was clean, 
washed, dressed, and powdered, and put on his 
blue riband, he looked as if he had stolen it from 
some gentleman, and taken refuge in fright in the 
House of Lords. Certain it is, that he met there 
company much above him, and to which, as he 
shewed by his manners and principles, he did not 
belong. He seemed quite forgetful of his situation 
as representative of Royalty, and heedless of the 
approaching storm which was gathering around 
him, his object seemed to be to degrade the 
House of Commons, as his predecessor's (the Mar- 
quess of Buckingham) to corrupt it, and both to 
effect its destruction. He stooped to gratify the 
low passions of others ; he possessed nothing 
that was noble of his own, and never would have 
been taken for the Lord-lieutenant, if it had not 
been for the star and riband that he wore. He 
insulted Lord Charlemont, and thereby offended 
the Protestants of the north and the Volunteers. 

* These were very few — Place Bill and Pension Bill, 



He soon after proceeded to insult the Catholics of 
the south ; so that he lost all support among the 
people, and stripped the Royal station of every- 
thing that could command respect or love. In 
place of these, he set up a new party, and gave 
birth to an unconstitutional and illegitimate con- 
ception — " monstrum horrendum, ingens, cui lumen 
ademptum" — the high church party, — that origin 
of evil, — that assumed the name of " Protestant 
ascendancy," and sought to divide the people 
under the pretence of upholding the church and 
state ; in other words, a civil and ecclesiastical 

Such a proceeding was mischievous in the ex- 
treme, and the more deserving of censure, because 
at this period a friendly and conciliatory disposi- 
tion pervaded all classes throughout the country. 
There existed discontent but not disaffection, — 
there was some disturbance but no treason ; the 
only hostility that prevailed was against the cor- 
ruption and abuses of the Government. 

The sentiments of the Whig leaders were consti- 
tutional as well as patriotic, — safe for the Govern- 
ment and serviceable for the state, and almost 
universally approved of by the people. Their 
spirit and character may be judged of from the 
account of a public dinner given by a society 
called the Whigs of the Capital, composed of the 
public-spirited citizens of Dublin, which took 
place early in 1791 ; * and when at the close of 
the year, an attempt was made to excite divisions 

* On Monday, the Whigs of the Capital dined at the Eagle in Eustace- 
street, to which were invited the Lord Mayor, his Grace the Duke of 
Leinster, Lord Charlemont, Lord Henry Fitzgerald, Mr. Grattan, Mr. 
Curran, Mr. Ponsonby, and several other noble and eminently patriotic 

The following, among a variety of other toasts, were drunk : — 
The King. — Prince of Wales. — The House of Brunswick ; may it 
ever regard Ireland, as the Parliament of Ireland regarded it, on the 
Regency question. — Rights of the people. — Friends of freedom. — Glori- 



among the people, and kindle a religious war by 
recommending that legal steps should be taken 
against Roman Catholics who carried arms con- 
trary to the existing laws,* — the Protestant mem- 
bers of the Volunteer Corps assembled to protest 
against such a proceeding, and condemned the 
publication that recommended it. In their reso- 
lutions they quoted a decree of that ill-fated 
monarch, Louis XVI. of France, almost one of his 
last acts, and which, great as his faults and his 
weakness may have been, reflects upon his me- 
mory the highest honour. f 

In England also, bigotry seemed on the decline, 
and a spirit of liberality had arisen. In the month 
of March, 1791, Mr. Mitford brought forward his 
Bill to relieve Roman Catholic Dissenters, open- 
ing to them the magistracy, the profession of the 
bar, legalizing their places of worship, and con- 
ferring eligibility to certain minor offices in the 
state. It passed quickly and quietly through its 

ous and immortal memory. — May the connexion between Great Britain 
and Ireland, founded on equal constitution, last for ever. — Volunteers 
of Ireland; three cheers. — The Whig Club of Ireland. — Duke of Port- 
land, and Whigs of England. — Unceasing opposition to the system of a 
pensioned Magistracy. — Majority of the Commons of the Common 
Council; three cheers. — His Majesty's counsellors who advised the 
court not to trample on the city. — The free electors of the city of Dublin ; 
may they ever choose well, and ever return the objects of their choice. — 
The liberty of the press. — The rights of Ireland. — Glorious revolution of 
1782. — The General of the Volunteers of Ireland ; may he live long and 
be happy; three cheers. — Lord Charlemont then gave the following toast, 
viz. May the Volunteers of Ireland never want a General that loves 
them as I do ! three cheers. — General Washington; three cheers. — 
Memory of John Hampden. — Memory of Doctor Franklin. — The im- 
mortal memory of Doctor Charles Lucas. — The late Earl of Chatham, 
his Hawke, his Wolfe, and all the heroes of his day. — Charles J. Fox, a 
British Senator, who would not bribe Ireland to sell her Constitution. — 
R. B. Sheridan, and when Ireland celebrates her glorious 110, may she 
never forget the friend who maintained her rights in England. 

* The resolutions of the county of Armagh Grand Jury, in the spring 
of 1791, stated that a rage for arming existed amongst the Catholics, and 
to stop it, they ordered a reward of five guineas for the conviction of 
each of the first twenty persons so arming. 

f See Appendix, II. Nc. 2. 






various stages in both Houses without opposition, 
and without a single division. 

Such were the generous sentiments and the 
liberal spirit which animated both countries and 
all classes of people. How it happened that this 
spirit disappeared, — that these fine sentiments 
changed, — and that, while America and Europe 
had progressed in civil and religious freedom, 
England and Ireland should have retrograded : 
how, in place of harmony, discord appeared, and 
in place of religion, bigotry ; and why the people 
were driven into violent courses, and induced to 
follow extreme principles and measures ; — all this 
is a matter of surprise as well as sorrow, and can 
only be accounted for by that fatality which over- 
hung the destinies of Ireland, and swayed those 
councils which had for so long misruled the 

Unfortunately for the peace of Europe, and in 
particular for Ireland, a direful and portentous 
event now occurred, which, baffling all conjecture, 
spread dismay and destruction far and wide. 
This was the French Revolution. 

At the commencement of this astonishing poli- 
tical drama, every lover of freedom must have 
rejoiced, and ought to have rejoiced at seeing a 
bad Government destroyed, an insolent and op- 
pressive nobility humbled, and a rapacious clergy 
restrained. But the people did not stop there; 
they went to the opposite extreme ; they rushed 
headlong into all sorts of extravagance and mad- 
ness ; they became fanatics, starting aside from 
the course pointed out by reason and right, like 
wild men ; debating everything — altering every- 
thing — inverting everything — giving everything a 
new name — investing all with a ridiculous affecta- 
tion ; and in seeking to prove that they possessed 
a better understanding of what a Government 




ought to be than any other people, they shewed 
that they knew nothing about Government what- 
soever. It seemed as if a rank and profligate 
court had called down the judgment of Heaven, — 
to be executed by a set of vain philosophers, who 
exceeded the very crimes they punished, until 
they themselves were destroyed by a superior man 
of blood,* who in his turn was extolled, deposed, 
and executed ! 

No crime exists in vain. Ambition murders 
ambition. Liberty — equality — the rights of man, 
are words very captivating in sound, but much 
abused in sense. The destruction of the Bastile 
in 1789, the establishment of a national represen- 
tative assembly, and the promulgation of a free 
Constitution, were not considered sufficient secu- 
rities for the peace and prosperity of the French 
nation. Greater sacrifices were demanded, and 
other immolations were required ; and that light 
which arose so bright at its commencement, became 
bloody and horrid at its close. Doctrines of un- 
limited democracy were set on foot, and the Irish, 
who are too aptto catch other people's follies, (for 
they are an imitative nation,) to a certain extent 
adopted them. 

But the leading and influential portion of the 
nation were not captivated by the illusions of the 
French drama. Lord Charlemont, Mr. Grattan, 
and Mr. Ponsonby sought to restrain the ardour 
of those who were inclined to embrace the frenzy 
and folly of foreign and fantastic novelty. The 
north of Ireland and its stubborn Presbyterians 
were first affected, — that old leaven which, Mr. 
Fox said, " fermented and kneaded together the 
principles of the British Constitution." On the 14th 
of July, 1791, the Volunteers and citizens held, at 
Belfast, a meeting in commemoration of the French 

* Robespierre. 
D 2 




Revolution, — the memory of the 14th July, 1789, 
— the National Assembly of France, — Mr. Paine, 
&c. &c. They published a declaration of their po- 
litical opinions, and an address of congratulation to 
the French people. To this the French replied, 
and returned them thanks for their approbation. 

These demonstrations were not, however, gene- 
ral throughout Ireland. The North, and Dublin 
were the chief places thus affected ; and it is 
probable that if the Minister had yielded in time 
to the just demands of the people, and abated the 
unconstitutional influence that he exercised over 
the House of Commons, the people would have 
joyfully acquiesced in the established order of 
things, and sought for no changes that were un- 
constitutional, and no interference that was not 
legitimate. But the persevering violence of the 
Government ; the religious animosity their fol- 
lowers excited ; the intemperance of the Chancel- 
lor, who assumed and insisted on the mastership 
of the Government ; the rancorous and violent 
abuse of the people; and the mischievous purposes 
to which the Catholic question was perverted, — 
all these baffled the moderate, frustrated the con- 
stitutional objects of the Opposition, and goaded 
the violent and headstrong party (a body wholly 
distinct from and opposed to the Opposition) into 
acts of violence, domestic disturbance, foreign 
alliance, and fatal insurrection. 

Lord Charlemont always feared French princi- 
ples, and stood out against them from the first.* 
Mr. Grattan also prophetically admonished his 
countrymen in beautiful language, but unfortu- 
nately true — " Touch not this plant of Gallic 
growth ; its taste is death, though 'tis not the tree 
of knowledge." 

Amidst the convulsions that agitated Europe, 

* M'Nevin's Pieces of Irish History, p. 17, New York Ed. 


the progress of revolutionary doctrines, and the 
extent to which they had gone even in England, 
far surpassing those in Ireland, it can scarcely be 
imagined that the Irish mind could remain tran- 
quil or unaffected, and that, while in other 
countries the people aimed at the entire exercise 
of the powers of Government, the Irish Roman 
Catholics would rest satisfied with total exclusion 
from the Constitution, and not seek to participate 
in the administration of the affairs of their own 
country. This would have been a greater degree 
of servility than the penal laws even could have 
produced, and a baseness that could not be ac- 
counted for by any principles of human nature. 

The Roman Catholic question may be said to 
have taken its rise in the year 1790. It pro- 
ceeded from natural causes : — the politics of Eu- 
rope, — the French Revolution, — the concessions 
to the English Catholics, — and the ordinary pro- 
gress of the human mind. These produced a 
necessary effect upon the Irish people, and urged 
them to assert their just and rightful claims. 

At the outset, their case was attended by a 
system of irritation,* afterwards accompanied by 
coercion,! and finally succeeded by torture. J 
The laws against the Catholics were not laws 
against subjects, but against proscribed persons, 
enemies of the state. Whether any Government 
had a right to enact such laws may be question- 
able ; for the omnipotence of Parliament is an 
absurdity. Parliament being created by society, 
and society by the Deity, both are subordinate to 
his laws; and the power that limits their faculties 
limits their authority. Parliament might enact 

* Abuse of the Catholics in speeches delivered in Parliament, and ad- 
dresses against them got up among the Grand Juries of Ireland. 

f Violent measures adopted by Government, Convention, Gun- 
powder, and Arms Bills. 

I Flagellation, Pitch-caps, Triangles, half hanging. 




[CHAP. If. 

that two and two make six, or that all men should 
be of one religion, and add to such an act a penal 
clause, and punish accordingly ; — but there exists 
no power to enforce such acts. A man keeps his 
own conscience secret ; no other person knows 
what passes there. Therefore, the penal laws 
were contrary, not only to the laws of nature, but 
to those of God. 

Afterwards, when the Catholics were allowed 
to remain in the country, and took the oath of 
allegiance, the penal laws should have ceased; — 
for the people became subjects, and then there 
could be no possible right to inflict such penalties 
upon them. Until lately, they had not been con- 
sidered as subjects, nor were they called Catholics; 
they were termed Papists by way of mark ; and 
not being considered as objects of law, they had 
nothing to which law would apply. They were 
deprived of their liberty, and not permitted to ac- 
quire property. They had no inducement to 
submit to Government ; consequently, their alle- 
giance became merely a matter of prudence. The 
Protestants formerly had deprived Ireland of her 
free Parliament, of her commerce, and of her 
Constitution ; they shewed that they were bad 
politicians: — they should have given the Catho- 
lics one of these acquisitions, in order that they 
might have an inducement to defend them ; for 
by giving them property, they would have gained 
strength to defend the liberty of the one party, 
and the property of both. But now the Catholics 
had acquired personal property, real property, 
and civil rights to a certain extent, and naturally 
they sought for more. Their increasing numbers; 
their rising strength ; their hereditary claims ; 
their attachment to the country which they had 
not forsaken ; their attachment to their religion, 
which they had not abandoned, and from which 

CHAP. II.] burke's writings. 


they could not be seduced ; — all these gave them 
hope, spirit, and determination. 

There were other circumstances also that operated 
at this time in their favour. Independent of the 
advantage derived from passing the English Bill, 
they received powerful assistance from an old 
and faithful friend — Edmund Burke, the earliest 
champion of their cause, their brilliant defender. 
He had, as far back as the year 1765, com- 
menced by writing his tracts upon the Popery 
laws; in 1778, he addressed a letter to Mr. 
Pery, then Speaker of the House of Com- 
mons, on the subject of the heads of a Bill for 
the relief of the Roman Catholics of Ireland ; 
in 1780, he published a letter to Thomas Burgh, 
relative to his conduct on the affairs of Ireland ; 
in 1782, he wrote to a peer of Ireland upon the 
subject of the penal laws prior to their partial 
repeal. These numerous publications were dis- 
seminated through the country, and opened the 
minds of the people. He now* commissioned his 
son to act on their behalf as secretary to the 
Catholics, and assisted him in his mission to Ire- 
land for that purpose; and shortly after, he wrote 
in 1792 his first letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe 
on the grant of the elective franchise. 

Owing to these services, Edmund Burke de- 
servedly possessed great influence in Ireland; but 
in England he acquired it from other circum- 
stances. He had uniformly opposed the advance 
of French principles, and from the outset com- 
bated the introduction of revolutionary doctrines 
into England ; this too at the loss of one of his ear- 
liest political friends. t His letters on that subject 
had rendered him popular among the aristocracy 
and the wealthy portion of the people of Great 
Britain, and more acceptable in the eyes of Mr. 

- 1791. t Mr. Fox. 


Pitt ; consequently, his opinion on Irish affairs 
was more favourably received, and listened to with 
more attention. 

The treatment which the Roman Catholics now 
received from Government was harsh and incon- 
sistent. They had prepared, in the year 1790, a 
petition to Parliament, modest and humble in its 
tenor, asking nothing specific, and merely request- 
ing that their case might be taken into favourable 
consideration. They waited on Government, and 
besought their support, but in vain ; they applied 
to have their petition presented to the House, but 
they could not get a single member to do so. 

When the Lord-lieutenant, at the close of the 
year 1790, visited the south of Ireland, the Catho- 
lics of Cork prepared an address expressive of 
their loyalty, and concluding with the hope of 
some relaxation of the penal laws. The address was 
returned with a desire that the concluding part might 
he struck out, and that then it would be received. 
This submission the Catholics very properly re- 
fused. They then deputed twelve of their body 
to go to the Government with a list of the penal 
laws, and to request that they would support the 
repeal of any part that they might think proper. 
The Castle people did not even condescend to 
give them an answer ! 

At length in September, 1791, they sent one of 
their body (Mr. Keogh) to London to represent to 
the Minister their abject state. He returned in 
three months, and the result of his mission to 
England was, that no objection would be made if 
the Irish Parliament thought proper to open to 
them the profession of the law, or confer eligibility 
to the office of county magistrates, grand jurors, 
and sheriffs ; and that the question of the elective 
franchise would be taken into consideration. 
They then applied, in 1791, to some of the Oppo- 



sition, and Mr. Pollock, author of the celebrated 
Letters* of Owen Roe O'Neal in 1779, held a com- 
munication on their behalf with the Whig Club, 
stating a very limited measure of relief. Mr. 
Pollock had been their firm friend, and, as has 
been stated in a former volume, had taken an 
active part on behalf of the liberties of his country- 

In reference to this subject, and with a view of 
ascertaining the extent of their demand, Mr. Grat- 
tan wrote the following letter : — 


Bray, July 26M, 1791. 
My Dear M'Cah, — Ask M'Kenna/f from me, whether 
the overtures from Mr. Pollock to the Whig Club, on the 
part of the Roman Catholics, expressed all the articles of 
their present wishes. J know Pollock is their able friend, 
and deservedly high in their esteem. Tell M'Kenna that 
I wish to have an answer soon, as some of the Opposition 
will quickly leave town, and I must be at the close of this 
week at Celbridge, from whence 1 shall go to Carton, to 
the Duke.J on this very subject. Yours, H. Grattan. 

The result of the application was, that the 
Catholics were advised not to link themselves 
with the Opposition, who could not carry their 
question, but to resort to the Lord-lieutenant's 
Secretary (Mr. Hobart). The reply and the letter, 
which fortunately is extant, fully exonerate the 
Opposition from the charges brought against them 
by the friends of Government, and by the oppo- 
nents of the Catholics, who, even so late as in 
1805, § on the debate on Mr. Fox's motion, 
asserted that the Roman Catholics had been ex- 
cited by the Opposition, and particularly by Mr. 
Grattan. Independent of the absurd idea that 

* On the right of Ireland to a free and independent Parliament, 
t An active individual amoug the Catholics. 
+ The Duke of Leinster. 

§ See Mr. Fox's motion on the Catholics, 1805, Grattan 's Speeches 
vol. iv. 



any body of people possessed of the ordinary spirit 
of men would tamely submit to a system of ex- 
clusion such as the penal laws inflicted, this letter, 
and the advice given in consequence, furnishes the 
fullest refutation. 

The penal laws had produced their baneful 
effects upon the Catholic mind ; they had rendered 
the upper classes servile, the lower classes timid ; 
crouching at one moment, — frantic at another. 

"Frenzy for joy — for grief, despair." 

In 1783, Lord Kenmare and his friends, as 
has been already stated, had sent a blind sort 
of message to the Volunteer Convention, in re- 
ference to the elective franchise ; and he now 
made,* on behalf of himself and the Catholic 
people of his county, a miserable apology to Lord 
Westmoreland for the silence of that sect, or rather 
for the blessing of their degraded existence, which 
he put forward in the shape of a servile loyal ad- 
dress, — disclaiming all discontent and all impa- 
tience, and relying for future favours upon the 

* To his Excellency John Earl of Westmoreland, Lord Lieutenant 
General and General Governor of Ireland. 

We, the Roman Catholic inhabitants of the county of Kerry, finding 
that certain writings are published in this kingdom, and associations 
attempted to be formed, which might possibly sow the seeds of discon- 
tent and impatience amongst the lower classes of our persuasion, humbly 
beg leave, under these circumstances, to present your Excellency the 
most unfeigned assurances of our unshaken loyalty, perfect submission 
to the laws, and most grateful and dutiful attachment to his Majesty's 
person and Government ; we also humbly entreat your Excellency to 
accept our solemn declaration, that we hold in abhorrence every Act, 
that can in the remotest degree, savour of, sanction, or excite commotion 
in the state ; that we are firmly determined always to persevere in that 
peaceable conduct, which has merited, for our body, a relaxation of the 
penal statutes, made in angry times against them; and, on this conduct 
alone, we rely for further favours from an enlightened legislature, and a 
mild and auspicious government, such as we have the happiness of living 

Kenmare, for himself and the Roman Catholic 

inhabitants of the co. Kerry. 
Gerard Teahan, for myself and the Roman 
Dec, 1791. Catholic Clergy of Kerry. 




enlightened legislature, and the mild Government 
under which they had the happiness to live! — 
Lord Westmoreland, who had so insulted them 
the year before ! — This, however, was considered, 
even by the Catholic aristocracy, as too servile, 
and Lords Fingal and Gormanstown, and Doctor 
Troy, the titular Archbishop of Dublin, together 
with a number of gentlemen from fourteen counties, 
amounting in all to sixty-eight, presented an ad- 
dress to the Lord-lieutenant, expressive of their 
loyalty and attachment to the King, — disclaiming 
everything which might create alarm in the minds 
of their brethren,— expressing their gratitude for 
former concessions, but stating their determination 
to apply to Parliament the ensuing session, with- 
out, however, presuming to point out the extent 
of the relief demanded. The Lord-lieutenant 
replied, that he received with satisfaction their 
declaration of loyalty to the King, and attachment 
to the Constitution, and that he would not fail to 
make a faithful representation thereof to his 

* To His Excellency John Earl of Westmoreland : 

We, the undernamed, his Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, 
Roman Catholics of the kingdom of Ireland, desirous at all times to de- 
clare unequivocally our sentiments of loyalty to our most gracious 
Sovereign, and our attachment to the Constitution, disclaiming every 
word or Act which can directly or indirectly tend to alarm the minds of 
our brethren, or disturb the tranquillity of this country, have, in order 
to prevent misrepresentation or misconception of our sentiments, thought 
it necessary now to lay before your Excellency the resolutions hereunto 

We confide in your Excellency's goodness that you will be pleased to 
represent us to our most gracious Sovereign, such as we really are, grate- 
ful for the mild and benevolent disposition he has been always graciously 
pleased to show towards us. 

We rely with confidence on our past as a pledge for our future good 
conduct, and as we feel most strongly the benefits that have arisen, not 
only to us in particular, but to this kingdom in general, from the indul- 
gence which, through the wisdom of the legislature, we have already re- 
ceived, so we look with respectful confidence to its wisdom, liberality, 
and benevolence, for a further extension of its favours. 

Resolved, that application be made to the legislature during the next 




Neither of these addresses, however, proved 
satisfactory to the great body of the Roman 
Catholics. They assembled in the principal 
towns and counties throughout the kingdom ; they 
resolved to petition for the repeal of the penal 
laws ; they disclaimed the sentiments contained 
in the address ; censured Lord Kenmare's con- 
duct; expressed their reliance and confidence in 
the general committee acting on their behalf, and 
to which they sent delegates to represent and act 
for them. This committee assembled, debated, 
passed resolutions and addresses, expelled Lord 
Kenmare, published their debates, and acted as a 
body representing the Catholics of the entire 
kingdom, by whom their authority was universally 

Their question was now impelled forward by a 
singular coincidence of circumstances ; — the weak- 
ness and timidity of some of their own party at first, 
and the violence and extravagance of their oppo- 
nents afterwards. Thus the motion of this great 
body politic was increased by causes directly op- 
posite to each other : — Lord Kenmare's party, and 
his weak addressf in December 1791, and Lord 

session of Parliament, for a further repeal of the laws affecting the Roman 
Catholics of Ireland. 

That grateful for former concessions, we do not presume to point 
out the measure or extent to which such repeal should be carried, but 
leave the same to the wisdom and discretion of the legislature, fully 
confiding in their liberality and benevolence, that it will be as extensive 
as the circumstances of the times and the general welfare of the empire 
shall, in their consideration, render prudent and expedient. 

That firmly attached to our most gracious Sovereign and the Constitu- 
tion of the kingdom, and anxiously desirous to promote tranquillity 
and subjection to the laws, we will studiously avoid all measures 
which can either directly or indirectly tend to disturb or impede the 
same, and will rely on the wisdom and benevolence of the legislature, as 
the source from which we desire to obtain a further relaxation of the 
above mentioned laws. 
(Dec. 27th, 1791.) 

f General Committee of Roman Catholics, January 14th, 1792. 
The following resolutions passed unanimously : — 

Resolved, that Lord Kenmare has entirely forfeited our confidence by 




Clare's violent conduct, the corporation and grand 
jury addresses, in 1792. 

his late conduct, in procuring, by his own exertions and those of his 
emissaries, certain insidious and servile addresses, calculated to divide 
the Catholics of Ireland, and eventually to defeat their just applications 
for relief from the grievous oppressions under which they have so long 

Resolved therefore, and in compliance with the wishes of a most re- 
spectable number of the Catholic people, communicated to us by their 
delegates, that Lord Kenmare be, and is hereby struck oft* the list of the 
sub-committee appointed to make applications to the legislature in their 
name for a further repeal of the penal laws. 

Signed by Order, Richard M'Cormjck, Sec. 

Resolved, That an address be presented to the Lord-lieutenant of 
Ireland, to request his Excellency to certify to his Majesty the ardent, 
zealous, and loyal attachment of the Roman Catholics of this kingdom 
to his Majesty's person and Government, and to lay before his Majesty 
the motives which have induced us to withhold our signatures from a 
certain paper, purporting to be an address to the Lord-lieutenant, with 
resolutions annexed, and presented to his Excellency by Lord Kenmare, 
on the 27th of December, and also to explain at large to his Majesty the 
circumstances of that whole transaction. 

That it is the opinion of this committee, that many or most of 
the persons who signed the said address, bein^ ignorant of several 
collateral and antecedent circumstances, could not possibly apprehend 
the real drift and object thereof, and consequently that the said address 
was surreptitiously obtained. 

That the said address (under pretence of satisfying unfounded 
alarms, and a supposed uneasiness in the public mind, which had 
no real existence) was fabricated for the purpose of throwing impu- 
tations of faction and turbulence on this committee, for refusing to disa- 
vow a publication in which this committee were not concerned, and 
principles of sedition which that publication did not contain, and with 
which the Roman Catholics of this kingdom never have been tainted. 

That the said address, replete with ambiguous expressions, was 
also intended, obliquely and insidiously, to convey an opinion that 
this committee was not composed of the men of property and respectable 
gentlemen of our persuasion, but of low and factious persons, not really 
representing the consequence, or speaking the voice of the Roman 
Catholics of this kingdom. 

That the said implications, both equally false, are highly preju- 
dicial to the interests of the Roman Catholics, and to the commu- 
nity at large, as rendering it difficult to ascertain with whom, or on what 
principles to deal with the Roman Catholics, from the uncertainty of 
knowing who is, or who is not entitled to speak their voice. 

That the said address was likewise the vehicle of another design 
of a still more dangerous tendency, viz. to convey a false impres- 
sion to the nation, to the parliament, and to the king himself, concerning 
the true state, the real wants, the temper and dispositions of this great 
body of his Majesty's subjects ; things most necessary to be known, 
and duly attended to by every wise government. 

That this desperate and complicated stratagem was still far- 


The benefit that the Catholics derived from 
these proceedings was purely accidental ; but 

ther aggravated by laying a trap for the loyalty of our body, and 
coming forward under cover of an address to his Majesty, which being 
the natural channel of communication between king and people, ought 
ever to be preserved sacred and inviolate from all fraud and deceit. 

That another object of the promoters of the said address was 
to form divisions, and to disseminate discord among the Roman 
Catholics, in order to obstruct their emancipation ; a project which has 
for some time past been carried on with great art and industry, which 
has more particularly appeared in an attempt to seduce the Roman 
Catholic clergy from the laity, and to set them at variance ; which, by 
converting the ministers of the gospel into instruments of oppression, 
tends to vitiate the purest source of confidence, to weaken the closest 
bonds of society, and to endanger the very being of religion in the 
minds of the people. 

That the devices concealed in the said address, and many other 
proceedings of a similar nature, only render it more incumbent on 
the committee to continue its exertions to procure the repeal of laws, 
which gratify but do not allay, the animosity of our adversaries, and 
which, instead of co-operation, procure us enemies, even in the com- 
panions of our afflictions. 

That though the Roman Catholics of this kingdom labour under 
many severe restrictions, they are not, and never were, deprived of all 
their rights. 

That it is not only the undoubted right, but also the bounden 
duty, of all the subjects of this realm, by petition to parliament, 
both to point out their own particular grievances, and also to 
offer their opinions to the legislature, concerning the interests and 
general policy of the kingdom, whenever they shall in their conscien- 
tious judgment think it necessary. 

That the proper mode be adopted to call the attention of par- 
liament to the grievances of the Roman Catholics, and to point out 
the measure and extent to which it is expedient and necessary to relieve 
them from the restrictions and disqualifications under which they labour. 

That it is declared by a statute passed in the 17th and 18th of 
his present Majesty, as follows: viz. "It must add not only to the 
cultivation and improvement of this kingdom, but to the prosperity and 
strength of all his Majesty's dominions, that his subjects of all denomina- 
tions should enjoy the blessings of our free constitution." 

That notwithstanding the aforesaid declaration, the Roman Catho- 
lics of this kingdom, neither having, nor being by law capable to 
acquire, any right, privilege, or franchise, elective or representative, 
" are wholly excluded and separated out of and from the high court of 
parliament, to have any knights or burgesses within the said court, and 
forasmuch as the said Roman Catholics have always hitherto been 
bound by the acts and statutes made in the same court, they have often- 
times sustained manifold losses and damages, and have been grieved 
with acts and statutes made within the said court, as well as derogatory 
to their liberties and privileges, as prejudicial to the politic government 
and maintenance of the common weal." 

That an humble and dutiful representation be made to parlia- 


they derived another and substantial benefit from 
the prudence and wisdom of their friends. The 
Opposition, finding they had not influence enough 
to carry in Parliament any measure, determined 
not to take up the Catholic as a party question. 
Mr. Grattan's uniform opinion, both in the Irish 
and the Imperial Parliament, was that it should 
not be made an opposition question ; and thus the 
Catholics, though apparently left unbefriended, 
had nevertheless every reason to be thankful, inas- 
much as by this judicious management, they got 
on their side two powerful auxiliaries — Mr. 
Hobart, who was one of the Government, and Sir 
Hercules Langrishe, who was not a decided op- 

The Parliamentary session commenced on the 
19th of January 1792. The speech from the 
throne, stated that the country had made great 
progress in trade, manufactures, and industry, but 
mentioned nothing whatever with regard to the 
Catholics. Mr. Grattan appears to have made 
almost a valedictory speech, nearly foretelling the 
fate of the Parliament and the Constitution. He 
recapitulated the errors committed by the Govern- 
ment, and summed up their offences in a masterly 
manner. His statement affords a correct picture 
of the mode in which Ireland has always been 
governed except in 1782, when she may be said 
to have governed herself. 

"Your present ministers made two attempts on vour 
liberties ; the first failed, and the second has succeeded : 
you remember the first, you remember the propositions : the 
people of Ireland would not consent to be governed by the 
British Parliament. An expedient was devised ; — let the 
Irish Parliament govern the people of Ireland, and Britain 
govern the Irish Parliament. 

ment, that in conformity to the above cited declaration, that their 
capital grievance, the cause of every other, be alleviated or finally 
done away. 

Signed by order, Richard M'Cormick, Sec. 



[chap. II. 

" The second attempt was modelling of the Parliament 
in 1789 ; fifteen new salaries, with several of new pensions 
to the members thereof, were created at once, and added to 
the old overgrown Parliamentary influence of the Crown. 
In other words, the expenditure of the interest of half a mil- 
lion to buy the House of Commons, the sale of the peerage, 
and the purchase of seats in the Commons, the formation 
of a stock-purse by the minister to monopolize boroughs, 
and buy up representation. This new practice, whereby 
the minister of the Crown becomes the common borough- 
broker of the kingdom, constitutes an offence so multitudi- 
nous, and in all its parts so criminal, as to call for radical 
reformation and exemplary punishment." 

He stated what a number of measures had been 
proposed by the opposition, and lost. The Place 
Bill, the Pension Bill, the Responsibility Bill, the 
Barren Land Bill (which had been pronounced by 
the Attorney-general to have been the best bill 
ever brought into Parliament) ; he condemned the 
proceedings in the case of the fiats, and the ex- 
cessive bail required by the judges, which he con- 
sidered most injurious to the civil liberty of the 
subject. He complained of the Commissioners of 
Revenue for not encouraging the breweries, and 
discouraging the consumption of whiskey. 

In rejecting both the Place and Pension Bill, 
the ministerial language, he said, was this : — 

" It is true, they are the laws of England, but they are 
not fit for the meridian of Ireland. This is much more than 
asserting that Ireland should not be free, — it is asserting that 
England should be free, and that Ireland should not; you 
may put the question of servitude in such a shape as to dis- 
gust the pride of a Cappadocian. The lot of Ireland, accord- 
ing to this reasoning, becomes particular degradation. We 
bear misfortunes patiently, because they are the portion of 
man ; but if they were the inheritance of you and of me 
only, — if the imperfection of the dispensations, ordinances, 
and degrees of nature were visited on one tribe of the human 
species, — if Providence had spoken, like the ministers of our 
country, 'these blessings are very well for others, but they 
are too good for your meridian/ I fear that the tribe so 
cast off would turn to execration; — and till Providence shall 


mark its divine displeasure by inflicting: some visible oppro- 
brious distinction on the people of Ireland, confirming the 
argument of their minister, and denoting its intention to 
degrade us, I must to such logic remain a disbeliever. It 
was once in this country, 'equal fate and equal freedom,' the 
still is now changed a little, — equal fate, i. e. equal fall, but 
inferior freedom — inferior freedom and superior profligacy. 

Mr. Grattan then alluded to the case of Lord 
Charlemont, whose character is drawn in beauti- 
ful colours. For years past he had been Governor 
of the county of Armagh; but Lord Westmoreland, 
dissatisfied with the popular part he took, had 
joined Lord Gosford in the commission, in conse- 
quence of which Lord Charlemont resigned. 

"We see with astonishment, and in it we blush for the 
abortive efforts of national spirit, the mortifying insignifi- 
cance of public opinions, and the degrading contempt into 
which the people of your country have fallen. We see 
your old General, who led you to your constitution, marched 
off, dismissed by your ministry as unfit to be trusted with 
the government of a county, — the cockade of government 
struck from his hat. That man, whose accomplishments 
gave a grace to your cause, and whose patriotism gave a 
credit to your nobles, — whom the rabble itself could not see 
without veneration, as if they beheld something not only 
good, but sacred, — the man who, drooping and faint when 
you began your struggles, forgot his infirmity, and found 
in the recovery of your Constitution a vital principle added 
to his own ; — the man, who, smit with the eternal love of 
fame and freedom, carried the people's standard till he 
planted it on the citadel of freedom ; — see him dismissed 
from Government for those very virtues, and by that very 
ministry for whose continuance you are to thank the King; — 
see him overwhelmed at once with the adoration of his 
country, and the displeasure of her Ministers. The history 
of nations is oftentimes a farce. What is the history of 
that nation, that, having at the hazard of everything dear 
in a free Constitution, obtained its mistress, banishes the 
champion, and commits the honour of the lady to the care 
of the ravisher? There was a time when the vault of 
liberty could hardly contain the flight of your pinion ; some 
of you went forth like a giant rejoicing in his strength ; and 
you stand like elves at the door of your own Pandemonium. 




The armed youth of the country, like a thousand streams 
thundered from a thousand hills, and filled the plain with, 
the congregated waters, in whose mirror was seen for a 
moment the watery image of the British Constitution. 
The waters subside, the torrents cease, the rill ripples 
within its own bed, and the boys and children of the village 
paddle in the brook." 

Alluding to the Barren Land Bill, which the 
law-officer of the Crown had pronounced to be an 
excellent measure, but which had been abandoned 
by the Government to please the bench of Bishops, 
Mr. Grattan introduced a remarkable panegyric 
on Mr. Kirwan, one of the most distinguished and 
eloquent of Irish preachers. 

" I congratulate the church on its alliance with the 
Ministers of the Crown: but let me assure them it will not 
serve their promotion. They live under an administration 
which has but two principles of promotion for church, or 
law, or anything, — English recommendation, and Irish cor- 
ruption. What is the case of Doctor Kirwan? That man 
preferred this country and our religion, and brought to both 
a genius superior to what he found in either; he called forth 
the latent virtues of the human heart, and taught men to 
discover in themselves a mine of charity, of which the pro- 
prietors had been unconscious. In feeding the lamp of 
charity, # he had almost exhausted the lamp of life. He 
comes to interrupt the repose of the pulpit, and shakes 
one world with the thunder of the other; — the preacher's 

* Collected for the female orphans at charity sermons preached by 
the Rev. Walter Kirwan, Dean of Killala. 




April, 1792, at St. Anne's Church 

. 752 




at St. Peter's 

. 812 




Ditto . 

. 718 



March, 1 796, 

Ditto . 

. 1014 


Ditto . 

. 900 



Ditto . 

. 788 


May, 1801, 

Ditto . 

. 884 




Ditto . 

. 1003 




Ditto . 

. 749 




Ditto . 

. 633 


E. Latouch 





This document came from this excellent lady, who interested herself 
so much in this charity, and who set so good an example in Ireland. 


desk becomes the throne of light; around him a train, not 
such as crouch and swagger at the levees of prince?, 
(horse, foot, and dragoons,) but that wherewith a great 
genius peoples his own state, — charity in action, and vice 
in humiliation ; vanity, arrogance, and pride, appalled by 
the rebuke of the preacher, and cheated for a moment of 
their native improbity. What reward ? St. Nicholas 
within, or St. Nicholas without ! !* The curse of Swift is 
upon him, — to have been born an Irishman, and to have 
used his talents for the good of his country ! Had this 
man, instead of being the brightest of preachers, been the 
dullest of lawyers; had he added to dullness venality; 
had he aggravated the crime of venality, and sold his vote, 
he had been a judge : or had he been born a blockhead, 
bred a slave, and trained up in a great English family, 
and handed over as a household circumstance to the Irish 
viceroy, he would have been an Irish bishop, and an Irish 
peer, with a great patronage, perhaps a borough, and had 
returned members to vote against Ireland ; and the Irish 
parochial clergy must have adored his stupidity, and 
deified his dullness. But under the present system, Ireland 
is uot the element in which a native genius can rise, unless he 
sells that genius to the Court, and atones, by the apostacy 


The conclusion of this memorable speech shews 
the idea Mr. Grattan entertained of the Govern- 
ment, and the impression on his mind that their 
intention was to abolish the Irish Parliament. 
He adds — 

" The people of this country suppose that England 
acceded to their liberties, and they were right; but the 
present Ministry have sent the curse after that blessing: — 
hear the curse ! — ' You have got rid of the British Parlia- 
ment, but we will buy the Irish ; you have shaken off our 
final judicature, but we will sell yours; you have got your 
free trade, but we will make your own parliament suffer 
our monopolists in one quarter of the globe to exclude you, 
and you shall remain content with the right, destitute of 
the possession. Your corporate rights shall be attacked, 
and you shall not stir. The freedom of your press, and 
the personal freedom of the subject shall be outraged, and 
you shall not arraign. Your city shall be put under con- 
* Two poor Dublin parishes. 
E 2 



tribution to corrupt its magistracy, and pay a guard to 
neglect and insult her. The seats of justice shall be pur- 
chased by personal servitude, and the qualification of your 
judges shall be to have borne their suffrage and testimony 
against the people. Taxes shall be drawn from the poor 
by various artifices to buy the rich. Your bills, like your 
people, shall be sold. You shall see the genius of your 
country neglected, her patriotism dismissed from commis- 
sion, and the old enemies of your constitution made the 
rulers of the realm." 



Roman Catholic Bill of 1792, proposed by Sir Hercules Langrishe, 
supported by Mr. Hobart the secretary — Catholic resolutions — Mr. 
Richard Burke — His petition, and character — Conduct towards Mr. 
Egan — Protestant petitions in favour of the Catholics — Mr. Grattan's 
description of Protestant ascendancy — Mr. Latouche moves the re- 
jection of the Protestant and Catholic petition — The Bill passes — 
Violent debates — Mr. Napper Tandy's quarrel with Mr. Toler — 
Question of privilege — Mr. Tandy's trial and acquittal — Speaker 
Foster's speech — Prosperous state of the country — Declaration of the 
Catholics — Circular letter of Committee — Corporation and Grand 
Jury instigated to address against the Catholics — Opinion of lawyers 
on the legality of the Convention — Meeting at Mr. Forbes's — Mr. 
Grattan's letters to Mr. M'Can and Mr. Berwick — His interview with 
the Prince of Wales and Mr. Pitt — Their opinion of the Catholics — 
Convention meet and send their petition to the King by their own 
delegates — Their correspondence with the Minister — Character of 
Mr. Keogh — Opinion of Edmund Burke. 

The year 1792 opened auspiciously for the Roman 
Catholics. The advice that the Opposition had 
given them not to make their case a party question, 
was attended with good consequences, inasmuch 
as the Minister came forward in their support ; 
and when Sir Hercules Langrishe, on the 25th of 
January, moved for leave to bring in a bill to re- 
move certain restraints and disabilities under 
which they laboured, Mr. Hobart, the Secretary, 
got up and seconded his motion. This was a 
great point gained by the Catholics, and which 
probably ensured their success. 

Sir Hercules recapitulated the measures passed 
in their favour. The first (rather singular in its 
nature) was in 1774, when the Legislature grati- 
fied the Roman Catholics by giving them an oppor- 
tunity to testify their allegiance* by framing an 

* Though the legislature imposed the oaths, such was the neglect at 
the office in keeping them, that the greatest delay and difficulty occurred 
when the Catholics afterwards were obliged to prove their qualification. 


oath for them. In 1778 they granted them some 
substantial concessions as to the purchase of pro- 
perty. In 1782, further concessions were made ; 
a liberal policy then gained the ascendant; the 
system of severity which before was considered 
prudent, was then looked on as unjust, and they 
directly acquired the power of purchasing land, 
which in 1778 had been granted imperfectly: 
they obtained the rights of property, and a free 
exercise of their religion. 

Sir Hercules expressed his regret at the con- 
duct pursued at their public meetings, and the 
exhortations not to be satisfied until everything 
was conceded, which he considered would alienate 
their friends and not advance their cause. They 
had, however, come forward* to vindicate them- 

Dublin,4th February, 1792. 
* General Committee of Roman Catholics, Edward Byrne, Esq., in the 

Resolved, that this committee having been informed, that reports have 
been circulated that the application of the Catholics for relief go to un- 
limited and total emancipation ; and that attempts have been made 
wickedly and falsely to instil into the minds of the Protestants of this 
kingdom an opinion that our applications were preferred in a tone of 
menace ; that as it appears that several Protestant gentlemen have ex- 
pressed great satisfaction on being individually informed of the real ex- 
tent of our applications, and our respectful manner of applying for 
relief; have assured us, that nothing could have excited jealousy, or 
apparent opposition to us, from our Protestant countrymen, but the 
above mentioned misapprehensions. 

That we therefore deem it necessary to declare, that the whole of our 
late applications, whether to his Majesty's Ministers, to men in power, 
or to private members of the legislature, as well as our intended petition, 
neither did nor does contain anything, or extend further, either in sub- 
stance or in principle, than the four following objects. 

1st. Admission to the profession and practice of the law. 

2d. Capacity to serve in county magistracies. 

3d. A right to be summoned and to serve on grand and petty juries. 

4th. The right of voting in counties only, for Protestant members of 
Parliament; in such a manner, however, as that a Roman Catholic 
freeholder should not vote unless he either rented and cultivated a farm 
of 201. per annum, in addition to his forty shillings freehold, or else 
possessed a freehold to the amount of twenty pounds a-year. 

That, in our opinion, these applications not extending to any other 
objects than the above, are moderate and absolutely necessary for our 
general alleviation, and more particularly for the protection of the 



selves from misrepresentation, and disclaimed 
every thing that tended to interrupt public tran- 
quillity, and expressed confidence in the liberality 
of Parliament. He stated that this was a subject 
he had taken up in his youth, and that he would 
not cast off in his old age. He wished that 
Catholic and Protestant should become one people, 
which they would do in time, unless intemperance 
retarded their progress, and revived the prejudices 
which so long kept them asunder. 

The Bill opened to them the profession of the 
law as far as the rank of King's Counsel, on their 
taking the oath of the 13th and 14th of the King ; 
it allowed their intermarriage with Protestants; 
repealing the Act of William the Third, and 
Second of Anne ; it removed the obstructions to 
art and manufactures from limiting the number of 
apprentices, and it restored to them education, 
repealing the seventh of William III., and per- 
mitting teaching schools without asking leave of 
the ordinary of the diocese. 

Sir Hercules Langrishe deserved the highest 
praise for his conduct on this occasion, but he did 
not receive justice, nor was he thanked as he 
merited. He attempted the most difficult thing in 
politics ; he opposed the court, and he opposed the 

Catholic farmers and the peasantry of Ireland ; and that they do not, in 
any degree, endanger either Church or State, or endanger the security of 
the Protestant ascendancy. 

That we never had an idea or thought so extravagant as that of 
menacing or intimidating our Protestant brethren, much less the legis- 
lature; and that we disclaim the violent and turbulent intentions im- 
puted to us in some of the public prints, and circulated in private 

That we refer to the known disposition of the Roman Catholics of 
this kingdom, to our dutiful behaviour during a long series of years, 
and particularly to the whole tenor of our late proceedings for a full 
refutation of every charge of sedition and disloyalty. 

That for the more ample and detailed exposure of all the evil reports 
and calumnies circulated against us, an Address to our Protestant fellow 
subjects, and to the Public in general, be printed by the order, and in 
the name of, the general committee. 



[chap. III. 

country, and he did both with success. Situated 
as Ireland was, the object he gained was of great 

Nevertheless, limited as the relief was, and in- 
adequate as a national measure to meet the wants 
and wishes of the people, there was a strong party 
in the House opposed to the question; for it was 
very easy to excite angry passions and kindle the 
spirit of discord in an assembly among whose 
members the old leaven of Protestant ascendancy 
had not yet subsided. Accordingly, Mr. CufFe, 
member for Mayo, expressed his determination to 
defend the establishment in Church and State, 
and to uphold the principles of the Revolution. 
He praised the conduct of Lord Kenmare, and the 
sixty-eight individuals who had signed the petition 
addressed to the Lord Lieutenant ; he censured 
the Catholics who had appointed delegates to 
attend the committee ; he censured their English 
agent, (Mr. Burke,) and stated that House should 
not be intimidated by either. 

This seemed to be the signal to the high church 
party, and was an index of their intention. Mr. 
O'Hara then presented a petition on behalf of the 
Catholics, which had been prepared by Mr. 
Richard Burke; and with a view perhaps of com- 
plimenting this individual or his composition, he 
represented it as his petition rather than that of 
the Catholics, of which advantage was immediately 
taken, the proceeding being quite unparliamentary ; 
and the petition was accordingly withdrawn.* 

Mr. Richard Burke, who was behind the Speak- 
er's chair, now came forward into the body of the 
House, on which a cry arose of " Take him into 

* Mr. GifFord, in his Life of Pitt, states, that the petition was so im- 
proper, and couched in such offensive language, that it would not be 
received. He is quite in error here, as in many other of his invidious 
allusions to Ireland. 



custody!" He got off, however, and avoided the 
Sergeant-at-Arms ; on which Mr. Toler humor- 
ously observed, " that he had read in the English 
papers of some foolish petitioners who had flocked 
to St. James's with a statement of their grievances, 
and that a most violent petition was presented to 
the House of Commons, but it luckily missed fire, 
and the villains made off." 

Another circumstance connected with this peti- 
tion was rather humorous : — Mr. Richard Burke 
had acted as agent to the Catholic committee 
during the year 1791 and to July 1792. For these 
services it was stated that he received upwards of 
2,000 guineas from the Catholics. His father's 
name and advice, and the influence he had in Eng- 
land, were the son's best recommendations. He 
had been spoiled by Mr. Burke, who greatly over- 
rated his abilities ; for he was vain and conceited, 
and wanted temper and modesty. It was said 
that he governed his father most despotically, 
a singular circumstance, but which happens some- 
times where men of talent are found to give way 
to feelings of relationship, and sacrifice to weaker 
understandings. He used to attend the meetings 
of the Opposition at Leinster House, and one even- 
ing, coming in late, and rather flushed after dinner, 
he gave the party a long string of resolutions, 
which he did not take the trouble of reading to the 
meeting, but in an authoritative manner desired, 
that they should be presented to the House ; but 
he had only one request to make, which was that 
Mr. Egan might not be allowed to open his lips 
on the subject, or interfere at all in the business. 
Mr. Egan was present; he was a good natured, 
honest, warm-hearted man, — rough in manner and 
grotesque in appearance ; a courageous character, 
very hot, and full of anger. His brains (so to 
speak) lay in his veins. He loved even the man 



whom he attacked; and though he said coarse 
things, he did not in reality mean them, or intend 
either injury or insult: with him abuse had be- 
come a habit, — almost his dialect. 

u If he call rogue or rascal from a garret, 
He means you no more mischief than a parrot." 

On this occasion he behaved exceedingly well, 
and very drolly. Incensed at Mr. Burke's con- 
duct, he stepped forward opposite to him, and 
said, " Sir, with the highest reverence for your 
derivation, I entertain none whatever for the modesty 
of your vocation" — at the same time making 
him a very low bow. The party laughed heartily, 
and sided with Mr. Egan. It did not end, how- 
ever, so well for Mr. Burke, who was so wedded 
to his resolutions, that he merely changed their 
form to that of an essay, making an argumentative 
and oratorical composition, — certainly clever, but 
by no means fit for a petition to Parliament; 
it accordingly met with the fate before mentioned, 
and was rejected by the House.* 

On the 8th of February, (1792) the Right Hon. 
John O'Neil, member for Antrim, a Protestant 
county, he himself being of a high Protestant 
family, and one of the oldest in the country, pre- 
sented a petition from 600 of the Protestant inha- 
bitants of the town of Belfast, praying the House 
to repeal all the penal laws, and place Roman 
Catholics on the same footing as Protestants. This 
was received with only a single negative from 
Sir Boyle Roche, who stated that it ought to be 
<tf tossed over the bar, and kicked into the lobby." 

On the 18th another petition was presented by 
Mr. O'Neil from the Protestants of the county of 
Antrim, in favour of concession to the Roman 
Catholics, but not to grant the elective franchise. 

* The document will be found in the Appendix, No. III., it is long, 
but an able production; said to have been revised by Edmund Burke. 


On the same day Mr. Egan presented a petition 
from the Roman Catholic committee, as well on 
their own behalf, as on that of the Roman Catho- 
lics of Ireland, praying for a relaxation of the 
penal laws, and a restoration of some share of the 
elective franchise, which they had enjoyed long 
after the revolution.* This petition was received, 
and Sir Hercules Langrishe's Bill was brought on ; 
and here was the beginning of that religious war 
which the weakness and the folly of both parties 
has prolonged for upwards of forty years. The 
measure was supported by Mr. Hutchinson, Mr. 
Denis Browne, Mr. Michael Smith, (afterwards 
Master of the Rolls,) Mr. Ponsonby, Mr. Egan, 
Mr. George Knox, Mr. Curran, and Mr. Grattan : 
it was opposed by Mr. Ogle, Mr. Cuffe, Mr. 
Staples, Mr. Ruxton. The House then went into 
committee without a division, and on the 24th the 
Bill, with very few alterations, was passed. 

On this subject Mr. Grattan was peculiarly 
circumstanced. His constituents were in a great 
degree opposed to the measure, and the Corpora- 
tion of Dublin, in an address, had requested him 
to oppose all relief to the Catholics, and to sup- 
port Protestant ascendancy. Mr. Grattan replied 
that it was the ministers who had attacked the 
ascendancy, by their attempts to corrupt the Par- 
liamentary constitution, and establish a ministerial 
ascendancy in its place. He added a statement, 
which was, unfortunately, disregarded. " The 
Roman Catholics, whom I love, and the Protes- 
tants, whom I prefer, are both, I hope, too en- 
lightened to revive religious animosities." In the 
debate he describes the real meaning of Protes- 
tant ascendancy, and gives a most interesting 
view of the two sects. The remarks are sublime 

* The Roman Catholics enjoyed this right till the year 1727. 

60 mr. grattan's opinion on a union, [chap. III. 

and eloquent: — one of them, it is to be hoped, 
will not prove prophetic : — 

" Protestant ascendancy I conceive to be two-fold : — 
first, your superiority in relation to the Catholic ; — second, 
your strength in relation to other objects. To be the 
superior sect is a necessary part, but only a part of your 
situation. To be a Protestant state, proud and able to guard 
yourself and your island against those dangers to which 
all states are obnoxious, is another part of your situation. 
In the one point of view, I consider you as a victorious 
sect ; in the other, as the head of a growing nation ; and 
not the first sect in a distracted land, rendered by that 
division a province and not a nation ; — it would be my wish 
to unite the two situations. 

"There is another danger to which, or to the fear of 
which, your divisions may expose the Protestant ascen- 
dancy — I mean a Union. Let me suppose the minister, 
as he has often proposed corrupt terms to the Protestant, 
should propose crafty ones to the Catholic, and should 
say, ' You are three-fourths of the people excluded from 
the blessings of an Irish constitution ; accept the advan- 
tages of an English Union.' Here is a proposal, probably 
supported by the people of England, and rendered plau- 
sible to at least three-fourths of the people of Ireland. I 
mention a Union, because I have heard it has been darkly sug- 
gested as a resort of Protestant desperation against Catho- 
lic pretensions. Never think of it. The Protestant would be 
the first victim ; — there would be Catholic equality and 
Parliamentary extinction. It would be fatal to the Catho- 
lic also; — he would not be raised, but you would be 
depressed, and his chance of liberty blasted for ever. 
It would be fatal to England, beginning with a false com- 
promise, which they might call a Union, to end in eternal 
separation through the progress of two civil wars. 

i% I have stated three dangers to which your ascendancy 
is exposed ; let me suggest a fourth — the intermediate 
state of political languor whenever the craft of the minister 
touches you in your religious divisions ; the loss of nerve, 
the decay of fire, the oblivion of grievances, and the palsy 
of virtue \ your harp unstrung of its best passions, and 
responsive only to notes of gratitude for injuries, and grace 
and thanksgiving for corruption. I conclude this part 
of the subject by saying, as broadly and unconditionally 
as words can import, that the progressive adoption of the 



Roman Catholics does not surrender, but ascertains the 
Protestant ascendancy ; or that it does not give the Catho- 
lic the power to shake the establishment of your constitu- 
tion in Church or State, or property. Neither does it 
leave him the disposition ; it gives him immunities, and it 
makes Catholic privileges Protestant power. I repeat 
the idea — and never did any more decide my head or my 
heart, my sense of public justice, and of public utility — I 
repeat the idea, that the interdict makes you two sects, 
and its progressive repeal makes you one people ; placing 
you at the head of that people for ever, instead of being a 
sect for ever without a people, equal perhaps to coerce the 
'Catholic, but obnoxious, both you and the Catholic, to be 
coerced by any other power, — the minister, if he w ishes to 
enslave, or the enemy, if he wishes to invade you ; an ill- 
assured settlement, unprepared to withstand those great 
diseases which are inseparable from the condition of na- 
tions, and may finally consume you ; and in the mean 
time, subject to those intermitting fevers and panics which 
shake by fits your public zeal, and enfeeble all your deter- 
minations. I sit down reasserting my sentiments, which 
are, that the removal of all disabilities is necessary to 
make the Catholic a freeman, and the Protestant a 

On the 20th, the House of Commons, as if 
repenting what had been just done, acted under 
the influence of those feelings which have unfor- 
tunately guided all proceedings wherever the Ca- 
tholics or the country were concerned — a spirit 
of violence at one moment — of concession at 
another — praising one day — insulting the next. 
In this mistaken spirit, David Latouche, a privy 
councillor, a supporter of Government, a person 
commanding respect and veneration, but who be- 
longed to a French refugee family, and seemed 
alive even then to the sufferings of the Huguenots, 
proposed that the Catholic petition, which had 
been received with only one dissentient voice, and 
the Belfast petition, that had lain on the table 
for near a fortnight, should now be rejected. 

This produced a violent debate. The demand 


of the elective franchise increased the support 
which Mr. Latouche obtained ; and, singular to 
say, this privilege, which had been exercised for 
near forty years after the Revolution, was repre- 
sented by the pretended champions of that great 
event, as forming part of the settlement, and a 
principal prop of Protestant ascendancy ! Messrs. 
Brownlow, Ponsonby, and Bushe, were found 
among the supporters of Mr. Latouche ; together 
with Beresford, Ogle, Loftus, Maxwell, Toler 
(Solicitor-general), and Sir Edward Newenham. 
They were opposed by Forbes, Egan, Hutchinson, 
Smith, Curran, Hardy, and Grattan. On a divi- 
sion, the numbers were — 208 to 25 against the 

This debate was conducted with great violence 
and asperity. Mr. Toler (Solicitor-general) was 
peculiarly virulent. The bitterest feelings seemed 
to be set loose ; insult and contumely cast on 
one party ; ascendancy and tyranny upheld by 
the other. In referring to these times, Mr. Grat- 
tan used to say, that " I could hardly obtain a 
hearing. As to Denis Browne, (who always 
supported the Catholics,) he could not be heard 
at all ; — they would not listen to him. I spoke 
against the sense, Browne against the noise of the 
House, and he was abused, insulted, and covered 
with reproaches." 

Such was the account given by the chief actor 
in these scenes ; and what a melancholy picture of 
a misled and misgoverned people ! The conse- 
quence was natural, for this violent spirit operates 
two ways ; — it forces one man to wish the slave 
out of the world ; and the other, the tyrant. Mr. 
Grattan's remarks on the Revolution are worthy 
of attention :- — 

" The Revolution has been much insisted on and much 
misunderstood. Gentlemen speak of the Revolution as 


the measure and limits of our liberty. The Revolution in 
Ireland was followed by two events — the loss of trade, 
and the loss of freedom to the Protestants ; and the cause 
of such losses was our religious animosity. It was not 
attended by the loss of the elective franchise to the Papist. 
If then the Revolution is the common measure of the 
condition of both sects, two extraordinary results would 
follow — that the Protestants should not recover their trade 
or freedom, and that the Catholics should not lose their 
franchise; but the virtue of the Revolution in Ireland 
was its principles, which were for a century checked 
in this country, but which did at last exert themselves, 
and inspire you to re-establish your libertv, and must 
at last prompt you to communicate a share of that liberty 
to the rest of the Irish. The Revolution in Ireland, 
properly understood, is a great and salient principle of 
freedom; as misunderstood, it is a measure and entail of 

"The part of the subject which I shall now press upon 
you is the final and eternal doom to which some gentle- 
men propose to condemn the Catholic. Some have said 
they must never get the elective franchise. What ! never be 
free ? 3,000,000 of your people condemned by their 
fellow-subjects to an everlasting slavery, in all changes of 
time, decay of prejudice, increase of knowledge, the fall 
of Papal power, and the establishment of philosophic and 
moral ascendancy in its place. Never be free! do you 
mean to tell the Roman Catholic, it is in vain you take 
oaths and declarations of allegiance ; it would be in vain 
even to renounce the spiritual power of the Pope, and 
become like any other Dissenter ; — it will make no dif- 
ference as to your emancipation. Go to France — go 
to America — carry your property, industry, manufactures, 
and familv, to a land of liberty. This is a sentence which 
requires the power of a God, and the malignity of a 
demon. You are not competent to pronounce it ; — believe 
me, you may as well plant your foot on the earth, and 
hope bv that resistance to stop the diurnal revolution 
which advances you to that morning sun which is to shine 
alike on the Protestant and the Catholic, as you can hope 
to arrest the progress of that other light — reason and 
justice — which approach to liberate the Catholic and 
liberalize the Protestant. Even now the question is on its 
way, and making its destined and irresistible progress, — 



which you, with all your authority, will have no power to 
resist, no more than any other great truth, or any great 
ordinance of nature, or any law of nations, which mankind 
is free to contemplate, but cannot resist. There is a justice 
linked to their cause, and a truth that sets off their appli- 

The House of Commons having involved itself 
in one difficulty by the rejection of the Protestant 
and Roman Catholic petitions, was led by the 
officers of the crown to involve itself with the 
people on another question — that of the privileges 
of Parliament. In the debate on the 20th of Febru- 
ary, the Solicitor-general, (Mr. Toler,) indulging 
in one of his usual humorous sallies, criticised 
rather too severely, the character as well as the 
person of Mr. Napper Tandy, upon which the 
latter demanded an explanation, which the Soli- 
citor-general refused to give, and appealed to the 
House. The House declared it a breach of pri- 
vilege, and ordered Mr. Tandy to be arrested. 
The Speaker issued his warrant, but Mr. Tandy 
escaped from the custody of the officer, upon 
which the House applied to the Lord-lieutenant 
to issue a proclamation for his apprehension, and 
directed the officers of the crown to prosecute 

Thus, by the misconduct of Mr. Toler, and the 
imprudence of the law officers, they got involved 
in two difficulties. To extricate themselves from 
the first, they were obliged to appeal to the Lord- 
lieutenant ; and to extricate themselves from the 
second, they were obliged to appeal to a jury of 
their country. Having thus laid the privileges 
of the Commons at the feet of the executive 
magistrate, they fled for redress to the people 
whom they had insulted. 

The business ended, like most of the matters 
entrusted to Mr. Toler, in a complete farce. Mr. 



Tandy avoided the arrest, surrendered himself a 
few hours before Parliament was prorogued — 
was brought to the bar ; defied the House — re- 
fused to answer their questions ; was committed 
to prison, accompanied by crowds of his anxious 
fellow-citizens, and immediately after was liber- 
ated. His trial then came on; the Government 
prosecuted him for sending a hostile message to 
Mr. Toler ; they failed in proving their case, and 
Mr. Tandy was triumphantly acquitted. 

The East India trade again occupied the atten- 
tion of Parliament. As Ireland could not trade 
directly to the East Indies, she was obliged to 
pay dearer for India goods coming through 
England, than if she traded directly to those 
regions. Accordingly, Mr. Ponsonby moved for 
leave to bring in a bill to repeal the laws which 
prevented the trade of Ireland eastward of the 
Cape of Good Hope ; but his motion was un- 

On presenting the money bills for the royal 
assent, the Speaker, Mr. Foster, stated in his 
speech, that the successful measures taken to 
prevent the increase of the national debt, was 
one great cause of the extension of trade, agri- 
culture, and manufactures, which, with a rapid 
and uninterrupted progress, raised the kingdom to 
a state of prosperity and wealth never experienced 
before. Mr. Foster was so far right ; for Ireland 
had certainly increased of late in a remarkable 
and unprecedented manner. The years 1791, 
1792 and 1793, were nearly her most flourishing 
periods, both as to trade and revenue. Her debt 
had not increased from 1787 to 1792, and at this 
latter period only amounted to 1,718,224/. and 
her revenue in this year amounted nearly to two 
millions. Her exports (official value) had in- 
creased from 3,779,570/. in 1785, to 5,387,760/. 




in 1792.* In the item of linens, the export had 
increased from fourteen millions of yards in 
1781, to forty-five millions in 1792. Her agri- 
culture, manufactures, and industry had made 
great and surprising advances since the period of 
the revolution of J 782. 

The concluding part, however, of this speech 
was marked by that narrow spirit which, unfor- 
tunately, swayed Mr. Foster during the whole of 
his life, and was so ill suited to a country, the 
majority of whose people were of the Catholic 
persuasion. He stated that " on the provisions 
for securing a Protestant Parliament depended 
the Protestant ascendancy, and with it the con- 
tinuance of the many blessings they enjoyed." 

For this speech, Mr. Hobart, the Secretary, 
moved the thanks of the House, and passed a 
marked eulogium on Mr. Foster — a questionable 
mode of shewing to the Catholics the sincerity of 
his attachment to their cause. On the 18th of 
April, 1792, the session concluded, and Parlia- 
ment was prorogued. 

The rejection of the Catholic Petition had been 
immediately followed up by a vote of thanks from 
the Corporation of Dublin to the majority of 210 
who had voted against the extension of the right 
of elective franchise to the Catholics. This body, 
who rested their title upon a charter of James the 
Second, formed, nevertheless, a most exclusive 
party. As private individuals, many of them were 
respectable ; but as a public assembly, they were 
wholly unfit to interfere in politics, particularly 
where religion was concerned ; and it is very 
probable that they would have remained quiescent 
had they not been excited by the Castle. Upon 

* In 1795, her revenue amounted to 1,931,461/.; and in 1796, to 
2,256,621/. The five items were Customs, Excise, Carriage-duty, 
Hearth-money, and Stamps. 


this, the Roman Catholics, adopting the sug- 
gestion thrown out by their Protestant friends at 
the meeting in Belfast, and following the example 
of a large portion of the English Roman Catholics, 
published a formal declaration* of their opinions 

* Declaration of the Catholics of Ireland in a General Committee. 

Dublin, March \7th f 1792. 

Whereas certain opinions and principles, inimical to good order and 
government, have been attributed to the Catholics, the existence of which 
we utterly deny ; and, whereas, it is at this time peculiarly necessary to 
renounce such imputations, and to give the most full and ample satis- 
faction to our Protestant brethren, that we hold no principle whatsoever, 
incompatible with our duty as men or as subjects, or repugnant to 
liberty, whether political, civil, or religious. 

Now, we, the Catholics of Ireland, for the removal of all such impu- 
tations, and in deference to the opinion of many respectable bodies of 
men, and individuals among our Protestant brethren, do hereby, in the 
face of our country, of all Europe, and before God, make this our de- 
liberate and solemn declaration : — 

1. We abjure, disavow, and condemn the opinion, that princes, ex- 
communicated by the Pope and Council, or by any ecclesiastical authority 
whatsoever, may therefore be deposed or murdered by their subjects, of 
any other persons. We hold such doctrine in detestation, as wicked and 
impious ; and we declare we do not believe, that either the Pope, with 
or without a general Council, or any prelate or priest, or any ecclesias- 
tical power whatsoever, can absolve the subjects of this kingdom, or any 
of them, from their allegiance to his Majesty King George the Third, 
who is, by authority of Parliament, the lawful King of this realm. 

2. We abjure, condemn, and detest, as unchristian and impious, the 
principle, that it is lawful to murder, destroy, or any ways injure any 
person whatsoever, for or under the pretence of their being heretics; — 
and we declare solemnly before God, that we believe that no act in itself, 
unjust, immoral, or wicked, can ever be justified or excused by, or under 
pretence or colour, that it was done either for the good of the church, or 
in obedience to any ecclesiastical power whatsoever. 

3. We further declare, that we hold it as an unchristian and impious 
principle, that " no faith is to be kept with heretics." This doctrine we 
detest and reprobate, not only as contrary to our religion, but as de- 
structive of morality, of society, and even of common honesty; and it is 
our firm belief that an oath made to any person, not of the Catholic re- 
ligion, is equally binding, as if it were made to any Catholic what- 

4. We have been charged with holding as an article of our belief, 
that the Pope, with or without the authority of a general council, or that 
certain ecclesiastical powers can acquit and absolve us, before God, 
from our oath of allegiance, or even from the just oaths and contracts 
entered into between man and man : 

Now, we do utterly renounce, abjure, and deny that we hold or main- 
tain any such belief, as being contrary to the peace and happiness of 
society, inconsistent with morality, and above all, repugnant to the 
true spirit of the Catholic religion. 

F 2 


and principles as connected with the civil and 
religious liberty of the subject. 

The General Committee shortly after issued 
a circular letter to the Catholics of Ireland, 

5. We do further declare, that we do not believe that the Pope of 
Rome, or any other foreign prince, prelate, state, or potentate, hath, or 
ought to have, any temporal or civil jurisdiction, ^power, superiority, 
or pre-eminence, directly or indirectly, within this realm. 

6. After what we have renounced, it is immaterial, in a political 
light, what may be our opinion or faith in other points respecting the 
Pope. However, for greater satisfaction, we declare, that it is not an 
article of the Catholic faith, neither are we thereby required to believe 
or profess " that the Pope is infallible," or that we are bound to obey 
any order, in its own nature immoral, though the Pope, or any eccle- 
siastical power, should issue or direct such order; but, on the con- 
trary, we hold, that it would be sinful in us to pay any respect or 
obedience thereto. 

7. We further declare, that we do not believe that any sin whatsoever 
committed by us can be forgiven at the mere will of any Pope, or of any 
priest, or of any person or persons whatsoever ; but that sincere sorrow 
for past sins, a firm and sincere resolution, as far as may be in our 
power, to restore our neighbour's property or character, if we have tres- 
passed on, or unjustly injured either ; a firm and sincere resolution to 
avoid future guilt, and to atone to God, are previous and indispensable 
requisites to establish a well-founded expectation of forgiveness; and 
that any person who receives absolution without these previous requi- 
sites, so far fiom obtaining thereby any remission of his sins, incurs the 
additional guilt of violating a sacrament. 

8. We do hereby solemnly disclaim, and for ever renounce all inter- 
est in, and title to, all forfeited lands resulting from any rights, or sup- 
posed rights of our ancestors, or any claim, title, or interest therein ; nor 
do we admit any title, as a foundation of right, which is not established 
and acknowledged by the laws of the realm, as they now stand. We 
desire, further, that whenever the patriotism, liberality, and justice of 
our countrymen, shall restore to us a participation in the elective fran- 
chise, no Catholic shall be permitted to vote at any election for mem- 
bers to serve in parliament, unless he shall previously take an oath to 
defend, to the utmost of his power, the arrangement of property in this 
country, as established by the different acts of attainder and settlement. 

9. It has been objected to us, that we wish to subvert the present 
church establishment for the purpose of substituting a Catholic esta- 
blishment in its stead. Now we do here disclaim, disavow, and 
solemnly abjure any such intention; and further, if we shall be ad- 
mitted into any share of the constitution, by our being restored to the 
right of elective franchise, we are ready, in the most solemn manner to 
declare, that we will not exercise that privilege to disturb and weaken 
the establishment of the Protestant religion, or Protestant Government 
in this country. 

Signed by order and on behalf of the General Committee of the 
Catholics of Ireland, 

EDWARD BYRNE, Chairman. 


calling upon them to appoint delegates from 
each county, and all the great cities, to form an 
enlarged committee, directing them as to the mode 
of appointment, and recommending that they 
should be instructed to petition the King, and 
ask for the elective franchise, and equal par- 
ticipation in the benefits of the trial by jury. 

This letter roused the feelings of the ascendancy 
party, and every exertion was made by Govern- 
ment to oppose the project. The Corporations 
and the grand juries were appealed to ; Lord 
Clare's party in Limerick ; Mr. Foster and his 
family in Lowth ; the Beresfords in London- 
derry — all co-operated with the grand juries in 
passing resolutions against the Catholics and 
their projected plan of delegation. Carlow, 
Mayo, Monaghan, Longford, Cork, Limerick, 
Wexford, Cavan, Fermanagh, Roscommon, Leit- 
rim, Meath, Londonderry, Armagh, Louth, were 
the chief counties from whence grand jury ad- 
dresses were forwarded ; but it was Limerick 
that gave the tone to the rest. 

In consequence of these proceedings, the sub- 
committee of the Catholics drew up a case for 
counsel,* who gave it as their opinion that the 
proposed plan was perfectly legal and consti- 
tutional. The Committee also published a decla- 
rationf in reply to the grand jury addresses, and 
voted thanks to their Protestant friends for their 
support. The addresses were, in general, violent, 
illiberal, and intemperate ; fatal to the peace of 
the country, and injurious to the character of the 
Government, who by these sinister and unworthy 
arts excited the people, just as they were dis- 
posed to coalesce, and to forget past animosities; 
they set both parties — Protestant and Catholic — 
at war against each other, and shewed that they 

* See Appendix IV. f See Appendix V. 


could only command their divisions, but not their 

The body that sprung from these proceedings 
was the celebrated Catholic Convention of 1793. 
Mr. Grattan considered it advisable, and strongly 
recommended it, knowing also that if the Catholics 
had been admitted to Parliament, a reform would 
soon have followed. It was a necessary, but a 
strong measure ; for conventions, like revolutions, 
should be resorted to sparingly; and it is necessity 
alone that can justify them. This one originated 
at a meeting held at Mr. Forbes's, in Kildare- 
street. Mr. George Ponsonby, Mr. Hutchinson, 
(Lord Donoughmore), Mr. Grattan, Mr. Forbes, 
Mr. Keogh, Mr. Edmund Byrne, and some others, 
were present. The Catholics were frightened at 
the proposed measure, and would hardly attempt 
it. Hutchinson was very bold ; Forbes was de- 
cided ; Keogh was timid. The party had some 
trouble in persuading them to come forward ; 
but the opinion of the meeting was so strong 
in favour of holding a convention, that at length 
the Catholics were brought to agree to it. 

Shortly afterwards Mr. Grattan went to Eng- 
land, and was fortunate enough to be in London 
at the time the Delegates from the Convention 
arrived there. He had then an opportunity of 
removing some false impressions, and unjust 
charges which had been brought against his coun- 
trymen, in order to prejudice the mind of the 
British Government, and of the King — a course 
of proceeding which was practised with too much 
success a few years afterwards. 


Bray, \Mh Aug. 1792. 

My Dear Sir, 
I am very happy at your arrival, and more so at the pro- 



mise you have made me,* but don't forget to accomplish 
it. Persuade Hardy he is indolent, and we'll rouse him. 
Mrs. Grattan has not been well, but I hope is getting 
better. I see the truth of your observation on Burke's 
last book.f From the extract he seems much wounded, 
much inflamed, — beset, — forsaken. 'Tis a pity. Twas 
difficult not to foresee such a situation. Yours, most truly, 

H. Grattan. 


Harrowgate, Oct. 13M, 1792. 

My Dear Sir, 
1 hope soon to see you, I think, much better than when 
we left Ireland. Mrs. Grattan has not yet recovered her 
strength, but is so much better that 1 have no fears about 
her. She is much obliged to you for your kind enquiries. 
In your letter you mention an event which I began to 
despair of — the amendment of Mrs. Hardy ; it is to him 
spirit and exertion, and to the House of Commons good 
speeches, which I hope he will make next session, other- 
wise we shall go wild instead of Mrs. Hardy. I hear no 
Irish politics but from the papers, which contain not 
much. The parade of the Volunteers on the acceptance 
of the French constitution must annoy the Government 
very much — they brought it on themselves. We are to 
meet the 4th, I hope in numbers, at the Whig Club,J 
whose button attracts the observation of some here, being 
very large, and they think mysterious, where more is 
meant than meets the eye. 

Here I get very little of politics. Peace and submission 
towards Russia. Expense and anxiety in the Mysore. 
The accounts about the latter are not so favourable as 
the former were, or the next must be, otherwise 'twill be 
for England, 'tis thought, a bad war. 

I know nothing about home, not having heard from 
them these three weeks ; but I hope that all are alive and 
well. I have heard nothing about Forbes, — where is he? 
or how is he? But M'Can wrote to me from Ireland 
some time ago, and gave no bad account ; from thence I 
argue he is well ; but the existence of him and our chil- 

* To visit him, and confer on some public matter, 
f Letters on the French Revolution. 

X Mr. Grattan generally wore the Whig Club dress — blue and buff, 
with a large gilt button having on it the harp surmounted by the Irish 



dren is all in logical conclusion, our servant having 
omitted to write. I hope all in your house is well. I 
hear Lord Moira is not. Yours, ever, 

H. Grattan. 


London, Oct. 25th, 1792. 
Many thanks, my dear Sir, for your kind letter, though 
I cannot sufficiently lament the unfortunate ferment it 
relates to. I get no intelligence nor information save 
what you, and in a short letter, Hardy, was so kind as to 
send. Do be so good as to let me know the state of 
things in Ireland. What are the Catholics doing, — or are 
they doing any thing more than the election of their 
deputies ? They talk here of their being armed ! — -is 
that the fact? I wish you would tell some of them in 
whom you have confidence, that they are much misre- 
presented, and that the people here are persuaded that 
they are on the eve of a rebellion. It is of great conse- 
quence to them that they should publish, and publish here 
a declaration of their sentiments, and temperate narrative 
of their proceedings. Thinking, as I do, very well of 
their intentions, and believing them to be studiously mis- 
represented in this country, and perhaps to persons in power , 
such a step seems very necessary for those persons who 
are the principal men of their persuasion, and who direct 
their conduct, to advise them to. 

I am glad Mrs. Hardy is better. I have seen nobody 
since I came to London, but before I leave it, possibly 
may. I have been confined by Mrs. Grattan, who is now, 
1 think, recovered. I have now, and not until now, no 
fears about her. She got Hardy's letter. Hardy, that 
fat, lazy, studious, postponing fellow. I'll break his 
wind when I go back, and make him ascend greater 
heights* than ever. Yours, most truly, 

H. Grattan. 


London , Nov. 6th, 1792. 

My Dear M'Can, 
I am glad the work is in hand, for our manufacturers are 
as good as any in any country, when properly encouraged. 

* At the back of Tinnehinch House rose a steep hill, from whence 
there was a beautiful prospect of the Dargle and Powerscourt valley, 
one of Mr. Grattan's favourite walks with Mr. Hardy. 

chap, in.] 



We are likely to stay here three weeks or a month 
longer. Mrs. Grattan is much better. I am, and so is 
she, much obliged to you for your kind inquiry. Write to 
me the news regularly, if you have time. Is there any 
truth about throwing troops into Ireland ? What do the 
Catholics intend ? Yours, H. G. 


London, \6th Nov., 1792. 

My Dear M'Can, 
I am very thankful to you for your letters, as is Mrs. G. 
for your kind inquiries. She is certainly much better. I 
am very anxious to be informed of what happens in Ire- 

Is that work to go on?* You see how material it is 
that it should. It cannot wait for my coming to Ireland, 
for that will be entirely too late. 

My love to all friends ; here, they are very anxious 
about the affairs of the Continent, and somewhat inquisi- 
tive about Ireland. I am assured some persons in ihe 
Ministry of Ireland {or well connected), on this subject, have 
represented the Catholics as in a state of rebellion, probably 
to get the English to assist in crushing them, in which, 1 
believe, our Irish machinators will fail. Yours ever, 

H. G. 


22nd Nov., 1792. 

Dear M'Can, 

I got your letter of the 17th, and I also got the newspapers 
and the debates. I shall not return these three weeks. I 
wish much thatf business should be done soon, otherwise 
it will be too late. 

I imagine the Ministry will strike to the Roman Catho- 
lics. The present state of Europe, and the likelihood of a 
Dutch war, will secure to the Catholics their own terms. 
I wish you would learn for me the progress of the negotia- 

I see the paper mentions the Volunteers are reviving — 
how is that fact? I see in the papers paragraphs respect- 

* This was a vindication of the conduct and principles of the Catho- 
lics from the charges made against them by the grand juries : it was 
published by order of the committee in December. It had been read 
to Mr. Grattan and Mr. Hardy, who recommended them to be firm, but 
moderate in language. 

t The Vindication. 



ing Reform — is that question in any progress? Answer 
me to these particulars as soon as you can. I am very 
anxious. Yours ever, H, G. 


London, Dec. 7, 1792. 
Thank you exceedingly. I shall return, notwithstanding 
the story you mention ; nothing but being drowned will 
prevent my being in Ireland some weeks before Parliament 
sits. I have some reasons for wishing to stay here a little 
longer — my wife's health, which is mending, but not in a 
perfect state ; the sitting of Parliament here, which I wish 
to attend. I wish also to have an opportunity of correcting 
several false reports and misinformations regarding the Ca- 
tholics. 1 have had an opportunity of removing prejudices, 
and all I now converse with are for them. They must 
avoid republican principles and French politics- The situation 
of France may give them strength ; but its proceedings must 
never be an example. What you mention touching Reform, 
as coming from Ponsonby, # is very interesting, I wish to 
be more particularly informed on that subject. Tell me 
more of his sentiments, — also of Curran's. Would they or 
either write to me. 

The pamphlet you mention I long much to see; probably 
I shall get it in a post or two. Has it any run, or any 
real merit ? There is no coalition, I believe, between Fox 
and Pitt. Much debating is expected on Thursday ;f the 
Ministry are said to be weak. Write to me as soon as you 
can. Our friend John J is to be in town to-day. 

I am d — d sorry they have omitted the crown § in the 
harp ; depend upon it, the crown is very essential to our 
prosperity, though I wish the Ministers of the Crown in 
Ireland were changed. It is supposed there must be a 
change of men and measures. Yours truly, 

Henry Grattan. 

This last letter is interesting, not only on ac- 
count of the advice which it gave the Roman 
Catholics, but from the evidence it affords of Mr. 

* His intentions to propose it in the approaching session, 
f The day on which the English parliament was opened. 
X John Forbes. 

§ A military association formed in Dublin ; their device was a Harp 
without a crown, surmounted by the Cap of Liberty* 



Grattan's sentiments. The passage which men- 
tions "the Irish machinators" alludes to the fol- 
lowing circumstance. Mr. Foster, who was un- 
fortunately full of prejudice and hostile to the 
Catholics, had sent to England a list of individuals 
who had lost their lives in some of the riots and 
robberies that had occurred in the county of 
Down. Their names were marked "Protestants" 
and opposite to them was a note — " Killed by a 
Catholic." These riots had arisen between the 
defenders and the opposite party, who were Pro- 

This mischievous document was sent to the 
Prince of Wales, and he was requested to 
lay it before the King. Mr. Grattan and Mr. 
Forbes had an interview with him at that time, 
by appointment. The Prince was then friendly 
to the Irish, and, according to Mr. Grattan's 
account, kept him and Mr. Forbes waiting very 
long. At length, when he appeared, he made a 
speech on the subject of the Catholics and their 
Convention, all of which he seemed to have pre- 
viously studied. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Dundas (Lord 
Melville) were there. Mr. Grattan described the 
Prince as professing himself friendly to the mea- 
sure, saying that " he was a lover of Ireland, and 
would support the Catholics." He spoke well, 
and was very animated ; and at the conclusion, 
he slapped most violently a very tight pair of 
yellow leather breeches which he wore, acting this 
part with much address and spirit, and adding, 
with great animation, that he had seen letters 
from the north of Ireland respecting the riots 
which had occurred there ; that the names of the 
persons were marked " Protestant," " Killed by a 
Catholic," and so on ; that he had been requested 
to give these letters to the King, but that he had 
declined to do so ; and that they had been sent 



then to the Duke of York, who had brought them 
to his Majesty. 

Mr. Pitt was very fair in the business, and was 
favourable to the proposed measure ; so was Mr. 
Dundas. He spoke as friendly towards the Ca- 
tholics as Pitt did, and, like Pitt, he subsequently 
opposed them, but in the end they succeeded with 
the King. 

Such were the circumstances that occurred at 
this meeting. The truth was, that the King had 
formerly taken up the Catholics as Anti-Ameri- 
cans, thinking they would support him in that 
war; and now that the battle of Jemappe* had 
been lost, he took them up as Anti-Jacobins; but 
soon afterwards he let them drop, and since that 
time he uniformly opposed them. 

The Catholic Convention had assembled in 
Dublin on the 3rd of December, 1792. Delegates 
attended from all the counties and the principal 
cities of Ireland. The first resolution passed was 
"That the Catholic peers, prelates, and delegates, 
were the only power competent to speak the 
sense of the Catholics of Ireland;" — the second was 
" That a petition be presented to his Majesty, 
stating their grievances, and praying relief." It 
was proposed that their petition should be sent to 
the Lord-lieutenant for transmission, and Mr. 
Hutchinson opened a communication with the 
Castle to ascertain their sentiments. Some delay 
and distrust, however, occurred, and the Conven- 
tion determined to send it by members of their 

* This battle was fought on the 6th of November, 1792, at the village 
of Jemappe, between the Austrians, commanded by the Duke of Saxe- 
Teschen, and the republicans under the command of Dumourier. The 
French account represented the loss of the enemy 5,000 killed, and as 
many prisoners. The Duke of Chartres, then called after his father, 
young Egalite, (now Louis Phillipe, King of the French,) distin- 
guished himself on this occasion, by his courage and abilities (par safroide 
valeur). This battle decided the fate of Belgium for the French, as the 
battle of Neerwinden, in the year after decided it against them. 


own bodv. Bearing in mind, probably, the con- 
duct of the Marquis of Buckingham in 17S9, and 
unwilling to trust another Lord-lieutenant, they 
appointed five delegates on the 7th of December, 
with instructions to present the petition to the 
King, stating the disabilities under which they 
laboured, and praying to be restored to the rights 
and privileges of the Constitution. No mention, 
however, was specifically made of seats in Parlia- 
ment ; but the instructions were that in any con- 
ference with the King's Ministers, they were fully 
to apprise them that it was the expectation as well 
as the wish of the Catholics of Ireland, that the 
penal and restrictive laws still affecting them be 
totally removed, and that nothing short of such 
total removal would satisfy the doubts and anxieties 
which agitated the public mind, or carry into 
effect his Majesty's gracious wish for the union of 
all his subjects in sentiment, interest, and affec- 

They arrived in London a few days after Mr. 
Grattan had the interview with the Prince and 
Mr. Dundas. The latter delayed giving a direct 
answer to their request of a personal interview 
with the King. The delegates, however, evinced 
a determination which does them great credit, 
and in which they were supported by their Par- 
liamentary friends, Messrs. Grattan, Hutchinson, 
Forbes, Curran, and Doyle, (afterwards Sir John 
Doyle,' all of whom happened fortunately to be 
then in London, and in particular by Lord Raw- 
don, (afterward Moira,) who received them with 
that hospitality* for which he was famed, and 

* Lord Rawdon's reception (almost his support) of the French 
refugees, was princely, but his generosity cost him not only his fortune, 
but his independence. It was from the mother's side this family derived 
their good qualities. She was a woman of a noble mind, and possessed 
not only good, but great sentiments. Her notion* were those not of 
Jkmutyj but of royal consequence. She, however, had some that were 



which, unfortunately, on other occasions, cost 
him so very dear. In case of a refusal by the 
minister, Lord Rawdon meant to avail himself of 
his privilege as a peer, and to have demanded an 
audience of His Majesty to express his opinion. 

The letters of the delegates were judicious and 
well-advised ; but, unfortunately for both coun- 
tries, the suggestions they contained were not 
followed up, and the long-agitated and vexatious 
question of Catholic emancipation was left open 
for an indefinite time, and under circumstances 
most critical to the empire. 



We have the honour to inform you, that the Catholics of 
Ireland have delegated us to present their humble petition 
to our most gracious Sovereign. We request to know at 
what time we may be allowed the honour of waiting 
on you with a copy of the petition which we wish to be 
submitted to His Majesty's inspection. 

We have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, Sir, 
your most obedient and very humble servants, 

Edward Byrne. 
Grevier's Hotel, Jermyn Street, John Keogh. 

December 19, 1792. J. E. Devereux. 

Christ. Bellew. 

Sir T. French. 


Somerset Place, 19/A December, 1792. 


I have received your letter, and shall be at the Secretary 

false, and those she entertained on the subject of the reform in Par- 
liament were quite aristocratic. 

The generosity of the family may be known by the following circum- 
stance. On one occasion three bills came from the Prince to Lord 
Moira for 1,500/., 5,000/., and 15,000/.; Lord Moira endorsed them, 
sent them to a friend, and got the money for the Prince. His Royal 
Highness's letter which was read on the occasion, made great protesta- 
tions of regard, and added, " If ever I forget your kindness, may God 
forget me on which Lady Moira made the following prophetic re- 
mark : " If ever that man comes to the throne, he wilt deceive his friends." 



of State's office to-morrow at one o'clock, ready to receive 
the copy of the petition you propose to submit to my 
perusal. — I have the honour to be, gentlemen, your most 
obedient and humble servant, 



In justice to His Majesty, with a sense of whose paternal 
goodness to all his people we are thoroughly impressed, 
and to the Catholic people of Ireland who sent us hither, 
we think it our indispensable duty to state, that the 
unanimous sentiment of that body, after a long and 
solemn discussion of their affairs, was, that no measure 
short of an abolition of all distinctions between them and 
their fellow-subjects of other religious persuasions would 
be either just or satisfactory. We were sent here to sup- 
port that opinion, and with instructions to state it fully on 
all occasions where it might be necessary to do so. We do 
therefore now, in conformity with those instructions, unani- 
mously declare that no measure of partial relief will be 
esteemed satisfactory by the Catholics of Ireland ; and we 
further declare it as our opinion, that independent of the 
justice of our claims — a total abolition of all distinctions 
now existing between the Catholics and others, His Ma- 
jesty's subjects of Ireland — will be experimentally found 
to be the only measure capable of removing the anxieties 
which now exist — of insuring a permanent tranquillity to 
that kingdom, and of perpetuating the connexion with 
England, the benefits of which we deeply feel, and whose 
existence we are peculiarly anxious to promote. 

We have also the honour to enclose for your perusal a 
copy of the signatures affixed to the petition of the Catho- 
lics of Ireland. — We have the honour to be, &c. &c. &c. 

Edward Byrne, &c. 

December 20th, 1792. 

Sir, — In consequence of the interviews with which you 
honoured us on the 20th and 24th of this month, we pre- 
sumed to entertain a hope that we should have been 
favoured by this with your determination as to the time 
when we should wait on you to learn the proper mode and 
season of presenting to his Majesty the humble petition of 
his loyal subjects the Catholics of Ireland, a copy of which 
we had the honour to leave for your inspection. We feel 




it our duty respectfully to apprise you, that on again re- 
ferring to our instructions, we do not conceive ourselves 
entrusted with any discretion or latitude, but are limited 
to presenting the petition to our Sovereign in person. We 
therefore humbly request to know at what time it may 
please his Majesty graciously to permit us to approach his 
presence, and lay at his feet the petition with which we 
are entrusted. And we are persuaded, sir, that you will 
not consider us as too urgent in requesting an immediate 
answer. When we suggest that ten days have now elapsed 
since our first application, and that we are responsible to 
those by whom we are deputed for our using all due dili- 
gence in endeavouring to obtain the object of our mission. 

We have the honour, &c, 
December 29, 1792. E. B„ &c. 

At length on the 2nd of January, after a fort- 
night's delay, the delegates were introduced at 
St. James's by Mr. Dundas. They delivered the 
petition to his Majesty, who received them very 
graciously, and was extremely polite on the oc- 

The delegates had an interview subsequently 
with the British Minister, who, according to their 
account,* seemed convinced of the necessity of 
emancipating, as it was termed, or satisfying the 
Catholics, and who desired them to judge of the 
British Ministry by the conduct of their friends in 
Ireland. The impression on the minds of the 
delegates was that Mr. Dundas would not have 
any objection to a full bill of relief, though they 
found it difficult to bring him to any thing specific, 
on account, as he said, of the independence of 
the Irish Parliament and Government. Lord 
Abercorn and Sir Evan Nepean were present at 
the interview. Sir Evan's opinion was de- 
cidedly in favour of the Catholics, and of their 
asserting in strong language their claims for relief. 

Of the persons who composed the delegation, 

* Private report to the Convention. 




the first in point of talent was Mr. Keogh. He was 
the ablest man of the Catholic body ; he had a 
powerful understanding, and few men of that class 
were superior in intellect, or even equal to him. 
His mind was strong and his head was clear ; he 
possessed judgment and discretion, and had the 
art to unite and bring men forward on a hazardous 
enterprize, and at a critical moment. He did 
more for the Roman Catholics than any other 
individual of that body. To his exertions the 
meeting of the Convention was principally owing, 
and their success in procuring the elective fran- 
chise. He had the merit of raising a party, and 
bringing out the Catholic people. Before his 
time they were nothing; their Bishops were ser- 
vile, and Doctor Troy, Archbishop of Dublin, 
though an excellent man, was under the influence 
of the Castle. 

The Catholic clergy possessed at that time 
great weight, and could easily get up addresses 
among the people ; and it is very probable that 
even then the Government interfered in the 
appointment of their bishops. Keogh had the 
merit of breaking down that system, as subse- 
quent events have proved ; for since that time the 
people have gone along with their clergy, so far 
as interests agree, but they do not follow them 
if they differ. Keogh prevented the junction 
of the Catholic prelates with the upper orders, 
who to a certain extent (as in the Kenmare 
address, and that of the Sixty-eight) had se- 
ceded from the people. He was the first 
of the Catholics who formed the plan of an 
extended committee (for committees had existed 
among the Catholics of Ireland for upwards of 
eighty years.) At the outset of life he had been 
in business, and began as a humble tradesman. He 
continued to get into the Catholic committee, and 




[chap. in. 

instantly formed a plan to destroy the aristocratic 
part, and introduce the democratic. He wrote, 
he published, he harangued, and strove to kindle 
some spirit among the people. In 1792 he came 
to Mr. Peter Burrowes, who was always a friend 
to the Catholics, and told him that he had failed, 
— that the people would not stir, — that there 
would be no public meetings, — that he began to 
despair ; and that he could not excite them. 

At length his efforts were crowned with success, 
and that by the very party who were his bitterest 
foes — Mr. Beresford and Lord Clare. Lord Clare 
(as already stated) had procured very violent re- 
solutions in the county of Limerick ; stating what 
Protestant Ascendancy meant, — namely, that it 
was the monopoly of all the places,— and all 
the establishments, to the total exclusion of 
all the Roman Catholics. Mr. Foster got up 
another set of resolutions from the county of 
Louth, and Mr. Beresford another from the 
counties of Dublin and Londonderry : with these 
documents Keogh came to Mr. Grattan, and ex- 
claimed with great delight, " By G — ! Lord Clare 
has done what I so long attempted and attempted 
in vain — he has roused the Catholics." 

In fact these resolutions brought them forward, 
rendered them active, and in the end successful. 
It is worthy of remark that Tone, who succeeded 
Richard Burke as secretary to the Catholics, was 
thoroughly adverse to Keogh, — neither liked the 
other. Keogh distrusted Tone, and had refused 
to become an united Irishman.* He wished to 

* An anecdote related to be by an intimate friend of Mr. Keogh, and 
of which I have no doubt, is here worth mentioning. It will shew how 
easy it would have been for Government, even at the latest period, to 
have retained the affections of the people. It happened that in the year 
1797 a foreigner got introduced to Mr. Keogh. In the course of their 
acquaintance they often talked politics, as Mr. Keogh belonged to the 
liberal party. This individual was highly pleased ; he expatiated on the 
grievances of the country, he remarked how oppressed the Irish were, 




steer the Catholics clear of that rock ; and hence 
Tone never forgave him. 

Keogh possessed two qualities that must always 
get a man forward, — flattery and satire. He used 
to dine with the members of the opposition at the 
Duke of Leinster's, where he met Lord Moira 
(then Rawdon), Mr. Conolly, Mr. Ponsonby, and 
others of their party. He flattered them, which 
none disliked ; and occasionally he came out with 
some very severe satire, and attacked their conduct 
with some talent, and without any mercy. 

When Keogh went to London, he was introduced 
to Mr. Burke, who liked him, and said that he pos- 
sessed arts that were certain to raise him in the 
world. The account of that mission afforded Mr. 
Burke and Mr. Grattan much amusement — 
seeing Keogh and the other delegates on their 
journey to London, —admitted to the first court in 
Europe, — going in great state, and making a 
splendid appearance. Keogh in particular was 
prodigiously fine ; he wore silk stockings, and a 
round, sharp-buckled tie-wig, with two rows of 
hard curls, that were extremely well powdered. 
He was highly delighted with his position — looked 
very grand and very vain; — he seemed to soar 
above all those he had left in Ireland. But when 
he returned home he had too much good sense to 
preserve his grandeur; he laid aside his court 
wig, and his court manner, and only retained his 
Irish feelings. 

and the Catholics in particular — that there were great means of resistance, 
and that he could assist and would advise Keogh to take part in resis- 
tance to oppression. Keogh told him he was quite wrong; that his plan 
was most absurd, and that nothing could be worse or more dangerous. 
The man becoming troublesome, Keogh grew apprehensive that he 
would do mischief, and at last told him he would complain to Govern- 
ment; and the individual still persisting, a complaint was accordingly 
made to the proper authorities, and he was obliged to quit the kingdom. 

G 2 



The Irish Parliament meets, Jan. 1793 — Speech from the throne in fa- 
vour of the Roman Catholics — Lord Clare's opposition and speech — 
Injurious effects on the minds of the Catholics — Mr. Grattan's amend- 
ment to the address — Opposes French doctrines — Mr. Hobart (secre- 
tary) brings in the bill for the relief of the Roman Catholics — Seconded 
by Sir Hercules Langrishe — Mr. Grattan's speech — Lord Clare's 
reply to the Bishop of Killala — Expresses his dread of a Union — 
Abuse of the people — Doctor Duigenan, his character — Singular 
duel — Loyalty of the Catholics — Their treatment — Lord Thurlow — 
Conduct of Mr. Pitt — Letter of the King — Lord Thurlow's remarks 
on it — Lord Loughborough, Chancellor of England — His character 
and conduct — Anecdote — His letters to Mr. Grattan — Richard 
Burke's letter, and Edmund Burke's remarkable letter to Mr. Grat- 
tan on Irish affairs. 

On the 10th January, 1793, Parliament assembled, 
when suddenly a new and singular phenomenon 
in Irish politics presented itself, to the surprise of 
some, the joy of many, and the mortification of 
others. For the first time, the situation of the 
Roman Catholics was introduced in a speech 
from the throne, in liberal and conciliatory lan- 
guage, and with a view to their substantial re- 

The Lord-lieutenant stated to both Houses that 
he had it in particular command from His Ma- 
jesty to recommend them to apply themselves to 
the consideration of such measures as might be 
most likely to strengthen and cement a general 
union of sentiment among all classes and descrip- 
tions of His Majesty's subjects in support of the 
established constitution. With this view, His 
Majesty trusted that the situation of His Catholic 
subjects would engage their serious attention, and 
in the consideration of this he relied on the wis- 



dom and liberality of His Parliament. The 
Speech also stated that he had directed an in- 
crease of military force, as views of conquest and 
dominion had incited France to interfere with the 
affairs of other countries. 

The address was seconded by Mr. Wesley, 
(Duke of Wellington,) who expressed himself 
friendly to the claims of the "Roman Catholics: 
This recommendation greatly astonished the high 
church party, who had been so very active against 
the Catholics the year before, and with the sanction 
of this very Government. The Chancellor, the 
Archbishop of Cashel (Agar), Lord Farnham, 
and Doctor Duigenan, the country gentlemen, and 
tke grand jurors in particular, who had been 
formerly instigated to oppose the Catholics, now 
found themselves abandoned ; and the very re- 
verse of the principles in which they were foolishly 
tutored was now recommended from the highest 
authority in the State. 

Lord Clare was offended, as well as disconcerted. 
He had not been in the confidence of the British 
minister, as will appear from the letter of Lord 
Loughborough to Mr. Grattan which mentions that 
the wishes of the British Chancellor and Cabinet 
should only be disclosed to the two secretaries ; and 
from what has been already stated, it is clear that 
the proceedings in regard to the Catholics were car- 
ried on without his knowledge or approbation. In 
the debate on the address, he did every thing but 
condemn the speech of his Royal master, and he 
took that opportunity of inveighing against the 
Catholics and their petition to the King, which he 
termed " a gross and malignant deception, with 
which he did not suppose that any set of men 
would dare to approach the throne." He entered 
into a long history of the penal laws, and de- 
clared that the Catholic grievances should be finally 

86 ld. glare's illiberal opposition, [chap. iv. 

settled this session, and that if any man looked to 
the total repeal of the Popery laws, it was an 
absurd and a wicked speculation ; — that it was 
impossible a zealous Catholic could support either a 
Protestant Establishment, or the connexion with 
Great Britain ; — that if Ireland made the experi- 
ment, the Establishment and the connexion would 
be put to the issue of the sword. He trusted that 
no degree of lenity, rashness, or timidity, would 
induce the Parliament of Ireland to yield her best 

These ill-timed, illiberal, and injudicious senti- 
ments, were most injurious to the Government 
and to the country, particularly when coming 
from so high an authority as that of the Chan- 
cellor, and contrasted with the benevolent dis- 
position just displayed by the Crown ; they were, 
in fact, suggestions to the King to hate his Irish 
subjects, and must naturally have disinclined 
those subjects, however loyal and affectionate be- 
fore ; for it is probable that if a man declares ano- 
ther to be his enemy, he will make him so ; or if a 
man say to two others, " You must to all eternity 
be enemies," they will either avoid him, or avoid one 
another, or hate one another ; so that, afterwards, 
when the King continued in his services the indi- 
vidual who declared that no Catholic could sup- 
port a Protestant establishment or British con- 
nexion, the people were led to suppose that the 
King credited the defamation, and they naturally 
reciprocated the sentiment of hostility, and thus 
the Irish Catholics were taught by the Irish 
Chancellor to hate, because they supposed them- 
selves hated. This speech was a wicked attempt 
to alienate the King from his people by pro- 
nouncing the people alienated from the King; it 
raised suspicion and jealousy on one side, by the 
assurance of detestation on the other, and laid a 



train of discord between religion and religion, 
nation and nation, King and subject ; and unfor- 
tunately this false witness against the Catholic 
became afterwards a true prophet, and at a later 
period the coronation oath was successfully set up 
by George HI. as a final barrier to their eman- 
cipation, and it delayed the measure for upwards 
of thirty years. 

In the House of Commons Mr. Grattan proposed 
an amendment to the address : — 

" That we admire the wisdom which at so critical a 
season has prompted your Majesty to come forward and 
take a leading part in healing the political dissensions of 
your people on account of religion. We shall take into 
our immediate consideration the subject graciously recom- 
mended from the throne; and at a time when doctrines 
pernicious to freedom and dangerous to monarchical govern- 
ment are propagated in foreign countries ; we shall not 
fail to impress your Majesty's Catholic subjects with a 
sense of the singular and eternal obligation they owe to 
the throne and to your Majesty's Royal person and 

These sentiments were wise and judicious, both 
in reference to the claims of the Catholics, and the 
doctrines in France. Mr. Grattan was always as 
adverse to the one, as he was friendly to the other ; 
and the line which he now took, as well as that in 
the subsequent year, facilitated the admission of 
Lord Fitzwilliam and his party to power, and for a 
moment opened to Ireland a new and more pleas- 
ing prospect. The amendment was agreed to 
without a division. 

As the Catholic Bill was the leading measure 
of this year (1793), it may be followed at once 
throughout its several stages. 

On the 4th of February, Mr. Hobart presented 
a petition from certain Roman Catholic bishops 
and others, complaining of the penal laws, and 
praying to be restored to the rights and privileges 



of the constitution. Some objections were made 
by Sir Henry Cavendish, on account of the omis- 
sion of the word " titular" to the signatures of the 
bishops ; but the objections were not supported, 
and the petition was received. Mr. Hobart, after 
panegyrizing the conduct of the Catholics, stated 
the outline of his measure ; — first, to give them 
the right of voting at elections ; — secondly, to 
enable them to vote for magistrates in cities and 
corporate towns — to enable them to sit as grand 
jurors — to disallow challenges against Catholics 
on petty juries — to authorize His Majesty to 
enable Catholics to endow a college and school — 
to allow them to carry arms when possessed of 
certain property — to empower them to be magis- 
trates, and to hold civil offices under certain 
limitations. He said that it was in contemplation 
to admit them to hold commissions in the army 
and navy, after a communication had been made 
upon the subject to the English Government. 
He then got leave to bring in the bill, and was 
seconded by Sir Hercules Langrishe in a very able 
and judicious speech. 

The bill was opposed by Dr. Duigenan, in a 
speech remarkable for length, its violence, and its 
hostility to the Catholics ; comprising a history as 
well as a libel upon Ireland. His principle was 
this: "A Protestant King, a Protestant Parlia- 
ment, a Protestant Hierarchy, Protestant electors 
and Government, the bench of justice, the army 
and the revenue, through all their branches and 
detail, Protestants." Such was the doctrine which 
the high church party in Ireland then strove to 
uphold, and this in a kingdom where the Catholics 
amounted to 3,000,000, and the Protestants to 
500,000, many of whom were friendly to the 
Catholics, and a convention of whom in the pro- 
vince of Ulster, had, a few days previous (15th of 



February), met at Dungannon, and after debating 
for two days, had decided in favour of the imme- 
diate and unqualified admission of their Roman 
Catholic brethren, as well as in favour of a radical 
reform in the representation of the people. 

On the 18th, Mr. Hobart proposed his Bill. 
After some debating, and a suggestion from Sir 
Lawrence Parsons, that the elective franchise 
should only be extended to Catholics who had 20/. 
a-year freehold property, it was agreed that the 
Bill should be read a second time on the 22d of 
February : on this occasion the old opponents of 
the Catholics, indignant at the treatment they 
received, and at the inconsistency of Government, 
who had made them the dupe of their artifice or 
incapacity, now appeared in the arena with re- 
newed determination, and loudly protested against 
the proceedings adopted by the Minister. On 
the other hand, the friends of the people particu- 
larly exerted themselves, especially the Provost 
(Hutchinson), Messrs. Ponsonby, Curran, Forbes, 
Day, and Duquery. They contended that the 
Bill should have conceded more, and at once have 
gone the whole length, and given seats in Parlia- 
ment; that it was not natural or possible that the 
Catholics could remain quiet or content with half 
power or half privileges. Mr. Grattan expressed 
the same opinion in a speech distinguished for its 
fire and spirit, which the publications of the day 
called " so divine an enthusiasm, that if ever a 
heavenly impulse animated a human breast, it 
was visible on this occasion." The concluding 
part is here inserted : — 

" I understand the policy of Rome and of Sparta : their 
slaves could have no landed nor commercial property; but 
yours may, and may add to physical superiority of num- 
bers the political influence of riches; and a vast landed 
property — they may become a great power in the nation, and 


no part of the state. Who will answer for the satisfaction 
of those proprietors? It is not life, but the condition of 
living ; the slave is not so likely to complain of the want of 
property, as the proprietor of the want of privilege. The 
human mind is progressive : — the child does not look back 
to the parent that gave him being, nor the people to the 
legislator that gave them the power of acquisition ; but 
both look forward ; the one to provide for the comforts of 
life, and the other to obtain all the privileges of property. 

" Your imperfect grants and comprehensive theories have 
given those aspiring thoughts, and let in that train of ideas 
which may hereafter greatly serve, or marvellously distract 
your country; you have already given to their mind the 
first principles of motion, and the laws of motion (and not 
yours) must direct the machine. 

" The germ on the soul, like the child in the womb, or 
the seed in the earth, swell in their stated time to their 
destined proportions, by virtue of their laws, which we 
neither make nor controul. Talk not in such cases of 
gratitude ; rely on that gratitude which is founded on 
interest, — such gratitude as governed yourselves from 1691, 
when you secured your property, to 1779, when you de- 
manded your trade; and in 1782, when you demanded 
your liberty, from a colony looking only to property, 
to a people looking to a free form of government, — 
from planters joining with the mother country against the 
Catholics, to a nation joining with the Catholics to exact 
of the mother country trade and freedom. Do I condemn 
you? Such is the progress of nations, such the nature of 
man, and such his gratitude ! # * # # 

" I have read of a republic, where the whole business of 
life was neglected, to give place to mathematical investiga- 
tion. I can suppose a more extraordinary state, where the 
law excluded from serving the public, three-fourths of the 
people, unless they would give a theological opinion, touch- 
ing an abstract point of divinity, and verify that opinion on 
oath. I have heard of Athens — that cruel republic — ex- 
cluding so many of her own children from the rights of 
citizenship; but she only had the wisdom of Socrates, the 
light of Plato; — she had not, like you, the revelations to 
instruct her; besides, she had not the press—she had not 
the benefits of your lesson. What lesson ? — that to a 
people it was not life, but the condition of living; and to 
be bound without your own consent, was to be a slave; — 




and therefore you were not satisfied in 1782 with the free 

exercise of your religion, but demanded however, I do 

not rely on your private productions. What are your public 
tracts, your repeated addresses to the King, the Speaker's 
annual speech to the throne, — what are they, while the penal 
code remains, but so many dangerous and inflammatory 
publications, felicitating the Protestants on the blessings of 
that constitution from whence three-fourths are excluded, — 
but above all, that instrument, infinitely more incendiary 
than all Mr. Paine has written, — that instrument which you 
annually vote, — what is it now? A challenge to discon- 
tent, — that money bill, I mean, wherein you dispose of the 
money of 3,000,000 of the people without their consent. 
You do not stir, nor vote, nor speak, without suggesting to 
the Catholics some motive either in provocation of your 
blessing, or the poison of your free principles; — some 
motive, I say, which is fatal to that state of quietism, 
wherein, during this age of discussion, you must enlap 
your people in order to give your government the chance of 
repose. You are struggling with difficulties, you imagine ; 
you are mistaken ; you are struggling with impossibilities. 
To enchain the mind — to case in the volatile essential soul 
— nor power, nor dungeon, much less Parliament, can be 
retentive of those fires kindled by yourselves in the breast 
of your fellow-subjects, living on the confines and the 
carousals of your freedom. Distrust that religious vanity 
which tells you that these men are not fit for freedom ,• they 
have answered that vanity in a strain of oratory peculiar to 
the oppressed. It is the error of sects to value themselves 
more upon their differences, than their religion ; and in 
these differences, in which they forget the principles of 
their religions they imagine they have discovered the mys- 
tery of their salvation, and to this suppressed discovery 
they have offered human sacrifices. What human sacri- 
fices have we offered ? — the dearest — the liberties of our 
fellow subjects. Distrust again that fallacious policy 
which tells you that your power is advanced by their bond- 
age ; it is not your power, but your punishment; it is 
liberty withot energy ; you know it : it presents you with a 
monopoly, and the monopoly of others, not your own ; — it 
presents you with the image of a monster in a state when 
the heart gives no circulation, and the limbs receive no life ; 
— a nominal representative, and a nominal people. Call 
not this your misfortune: it is your sentence; it is your 



[chap. IV. 

execution. Never could the law of nature suffer one set of 
men to take away the liberty of another, and that a numer- 
ous part of their own people,without feeling some diminution 
of their own strength and freedom. But, in making laws 
on the subject of religion, legislators forget mankind, until 
their own distraction admonishes them of two truths, — 
the one, that there is a God, — the other, that there is a 
people. Never was it permitted to any nation, — they may 
perplex their understanding with various apologies, — but 
never long was it permitted to exclude from essential, — 
from what they themselves have pronounced essential bless- 
ings, a great portion of themselves, for periods of time, 
and for no reason, or what is worse, for such reason as you 
have advanced. 

" Conquerors, or tyrants proceeding from conquerors, have 
scarcely ever, for any length of time, governed by these 
partial disabilities ; but a people so to govern itself, or 
rather, under the name of government, so to exclude one 
another, — the industrious, the opulent, the useful, — that 
part that feeds you with its industry, and supplies you with 
its taxes, weaves that you may wear, and ploughs that you 
may eat, — to exclude a body so useful, so numerous, and 
that for ever, and in the mean time to tax them ad libitum, 
and occasionally to pledge their lives and fortunes! — for 
what ? — for their disfranchisement. It cannot be done : 
continue it, and you expect from your laws what it were 
blasphemy to ask of your Maker. Such a policy always 
turns on the inventor, and bruises him under the stroke of 
the sceptre, or the sword, or sinks him under the accumu- 
lation of debt and loss of dominion. Need I go to instances? 
What was the case of Ireland, enslaved for a century, and 
withered and blasted with her Protestant ascendancy, like 
a shattered oak, seethed on its hill by the fires of its own 
intolerance? What lost England America, but such a 
policy ? — an attempt to bind men by a Parliament wherein 
they are not represented, — such an attempt as some would 
now continue to practise on the Catholics, and to involve 
England. What was it saved England to Ireland, but the 
contrary policy ? I have seen these principles of liberty 
verified by yourselves, — I have heard addresses, from 
counties and cities here, on the subject of the slave-trade, to 
Mr. Wilberforce, thanking him for his efforts to set free a 
distressed people. Has your pity traversed leagues of sea 
to sit down by the black boy on the Coast of Guinea, and 


have you forgot the man at home by your side, your brother? 
Come, then, and by one great act cancel this code, and pre- 
pare your mind for that bright order of time which now 
seems to touch your condition !" 

On the 25th, Mr. George Knox proposed the 
admission of Roman Catholics to sit in Parliament, 
in which he was seconded by Major, afterwards 
Sir John Doyle, and opposed by Mr. Wesley, 
and the motion was rejected by 136 to 69. 

On the 27th, the Bill went into committee. It 
was opposed by the Speaker, Mr. Foster, and 
Mr. Ogle. Doctor Duigenan proposed to limit the 
elective franchise to 20/. freehold property. Mr. 
Vandeleur proposed as an amendment, that it 
should be limited to 10/. This was rejected by 
144 to 72. An amendment, by Mr. Warburton, 
to limit the franchise to 5/. was likewise nega- 

On the 2nd of March, Mr. Hobart presented a 
sketch of the oath to be taken by the Catholics. 
It consisted of the whole of the oath of the 13th 
and 14th of the King; and embraced also many of 
the leading points contained in the late Catholic 
declaration. Doctor Duigenan proposed a much 
longer one, but this was objected to, and at 
length, out of both, one was composed, which 
was upwards of a page in length, and a very 
offensive composition. The bill thus altered — not 
amended, — passed on the 7th of March, and on the 
15th was sent to the Lords, where it met with 
considerable opposition from the Chancellor and 
the Archbishop of Cashel. It was, however, 
warmly supported by the Bishop of Killala (Law) ; 
in reply to whom Lord Clare expressed himself 
in the following singular terms, and gave his 
opinion on the Union which is certainly very 
remarkable : 

" When principles of anarchy, the rage of innovation, 



and the epidemical frenzy seem to have reached this 
House, — when inflammatory declamation, and ill-advised 
mis-statements come from the reverend Bench, and attacks 
upon the existing Government, I feel it necessary to rise in 
defence of the Constitution. Before I allude more par- 
ticularly to the right reverend Prelate,* I must assume the 
office of his apologist ; and the apologies I shall make for 
him will be, an utter and radical ignorance of the laws and 
constitution of the country from whence he came, and the 
laws and constitution of the country in which he lives." 

He wished "to resist further innovation, and 
foresaw, in granting more than the present bill 
gave, a total separation from England, or a union 
with her — -each to be equally dreaded." These 
latter expressions will strike every reader ac- 
quainted with the history of these times, and with 
Lord Clare's subsequent conduct on the Union, 
as very surprising. The report of the speech 
is accurate ; but it must be observed, that at this 
period Lord Clare was dissatisfied with the Bri- 
tish minister. He had not been consulted by 
him, and, ambitious of power, and seeking to 
monopolize all government, he expressed himself 
against a Union, perhaps because he supposed 
the British minister was for it. 

The bill passed both Houses, and on the 9th of 
April received the Royal assent, and so far raised 
the Catholic, in point of law, to a level with his 
Protestant fellow-countryman ; but, in point of 
fact, as far as regarded promotion at the bar, or 
the enjoyment of civil and corporate rights, Ro- 
man Catholics remained excluded in many cases 
just as much as if the law had not passed. It was 
not till 1822 (Lord Wellesley's administration) 
that they were promoted in the legal profession, 
under the provisions of this bill ; nor was it until 

* Brother to Lord Ellenborough, who was afterwards Chief Justice 
of England, and who was perhaps as capable of instructing his brother 
in the laws and constitution of his country, as Lord Fitzgibbon was. 





the passing of the Corporation Bill in 1840 that 
they actually enjoyed those privileges which had 
been granted to them so far back as 1793, the 
corporations constantly excluding them.* So 
necessary it is for the people to have in power 
men friendly to their liberties ; and so unfit are 
those men to carry into effect liberal laws which 
they have so long opposed, and have at length 
adopted, not from choice, but necessity. 

During the passing of this bill, the Catholic 
Convention, acting by their sub-committee, had 
deputed three of their body to wait upon the Se- 
cretary, and inform him, that in their opinion 
nothing less than an unlimited emancipation would 
satisfy the Catholics. Mr. Hobart, having got 
leave from the House to bring in his measure, 
sent for the deputation, and declared to them his 
opinion : — 

u That nothing could be done in the business whatever, 
unless he should be enabled to say that they would be 
satisfied with the measures at present intended ; that by 
being satisfied, he meant that the public mind should not 
be irritated in the manner it had been for some time back; 
that it was not meant to say that future applications 
might not be made, but that, if the Catholics would not 
for the present be satisfied, it was better to make a stand 
here than to concede, and thereby to give them strength 
by which they might be able farther to embarrass the 
administration next session." 

This declaration, which was not very statesman- 
like, but which he found it his duty to make, 
excited some dissatisfaction among the Catholic 
body. However, the ablest men of their Conven- 

* In April 1794, Mr. Weldon, a Roman Catholic, presented a peti- 
tion to the Guild of Merchants, praying his admission into the Cor- 
poration. He was objected to upon principle, and was rejected by 
83 to 56, and no Catholics were ever admitted. Another attempt 
was made in 1822, but failed, though supported by the Latouche and 
Hutchinson families. Lord Wellesley was Lord-lieutenant ; but as a 
counterpoise, Mr. Goulburn was secretary. Such was the policy of 
those days. 




tion were of opinion, that they should take what 
they could get, and accordingly it seemed better, 
on the whole, not to adopt any proceeding in con- 
sequence of Mr. Hobart's communication, but let 
matters quietly proceed. 

The result of this policy, and of the proceedings 
on the part of the Government, was just what 
might have been expected. There was not per- 
fect satisfaction throughout the country, still less 
was there national content. There was sulky 
complaining and unaccommodating loyalty. A 
friendly Government, and a mild manner in deal- 
ing with the people, who must, on the whole, 
have rejoiced at what was obtained, though it 
was not all they wished, would have reconciled 
all minor differences, and united all classes of 
people. But it happened, unfortunately for the 
restoration of peace and good will, that the debates 
on the Catholic question were made the vehicle of 
a new style of discussion in both Houses of 
Parliament, — unmeasured calumny and abuse, 
charges of disaffection and hostility pronounced 
eternal. Doctor Duigenan had the chief, though 
not the exclusive, merit of introducing the prac- 
tice. He indulged in the most violent invectives 
against the religion of the people, just as Lord 
Clare did against their civil liberties ; and it may 
be said that these two individuals commenced, 
in words, as well as in deeds, the war of re- 

Doctor Duigenan was descended from a coun- 
try peasant of the name of O'Dewegenan. He 
was educated for the Roman Catholic priesthood, 
but being assisted by a Protestant clergyman, 
who kept a boarding-school, and who found in 
young O'Dewegenan an aptitude for learning, 
which he had contracted at the hedge-schools, 




where he had been first instructed, he was ad- 
vanced to the office of tutor in his establishment. 
Upon this, O'Dewegenan changed his name and 
his religion. He entered Dublin College, ob- 
tained a scholarship, and then a law fellowship. 
His propensities here discovered themselves, and 
he began very early the practice of abuse. He 
assailed Provost Hutchinson and all his family, 
male and female, and wrote against them the essay 
entitled, Lachryma Academicce. He then attacked 
Doctor O'Leary, and published several letters 
under a fictitious signature, full of hostility to his 
former creed, as is generally the case with men 
who desert their religion. He did not, however, 
confine his enmity to words, but personally as- 
sailed the Provost. He had attached himself to 
Mr. Tisdall, the Attorney-General ; for he clung 
to power, and was fond of protection. Aware 
that the Provost and Tisdall were political oppo- 
nents, he addressed the former one day as he was 
coming out of the Court of King's Bench, and in 
a phrase more peculiar to the wilds of America 
than to the hall of justice, concluded his attack 
by telling him, "he would bulge his eye." The 
Provost disdained to wreak his revenge upon so 
low a retainer of Government, and determined to 
make Tisdall answerable. Accordingly, he ap- 
plied immediately to him. Mr. Grattan (for this 
occurred when he was at the bar) happened to be 
in court at the time, and saw a rush of the silk 
gowns around the party, as they retired to a pri- 
vate chamber. How this terminated, has been 
already stated in a preceding volume. Death, 
that saved the two parties, one from prosecution, 
and the other probably from conviction, did not 
rescue Duigenan from general condemnation. This 
individual, in looks, manner, phrase, and gesture, 
was more than plebeian ; — hard in feature, and 

VOL. IV. h 




forbidding in appearance, his intellect was strong, 
but rude in the extreme, — his zeal and his anger 
were vehement and uncontrolled, — his mind was 
narrow, coarse, and illiberal ;— no ray of genius, 
generosity, or talent was there discernible ; and 
though he talked much of religion, he appeared 
little affected by its precepts, and still less in- 
fluenced by its charity. He seemed never to 
think of his God but as a scourge to his fellow- 
creatures. He was an arbitrary lawyer, and a 
prompt instrument of power; — always ready to 
take up her side against liberty. The nation to 
whom he owed his birth, he slandered, — the com- 
mon people, from whom he sprung, he vitu- 
perated ; — and the religion of his wife he perse- 
cuted. He abused the people ; he abused the 
Catholics ; he abused his country. He sought to 
recommend himself to Mr. Pitt, by abusing Mr. 
Fox ; and to Lord Clare, by abusing Mr. Grat- 
tan ; and to the sister country, by calumniating 
his own. Yet in private life he was not a bad 
man ; — he was a kind and indulgent master, and 
a good husband, even to a Catholic wife. His 
hostility to the Papists, as he always called them, 
was whimsically exemplified ; for though his own 
name was not easily pronounced, yet he affected 
a difficulty in pronouncing that of Keogh, which 
drew from Curran the remark, " that he shewed 
his enmity by actually gnawing the petitioners' 
names." His manner of speaking resembled that 
of a mob-man in the last stage of agony, and 
it might be supposed that he had by accident 
burst his way into the House of Commons, and 
not have known in what assembly he was placed. 
On the Catholic question in 1805, he came in 
with a library, and overwhelmed the assembly 
with its contents, — tedious and extravagant quo- 
tations. The Council of Lateran was his fort, 




and furnished him with ample munition of war 
either for attack or for defence — for illogical rea- 
soning or unfounded representations. He de- 
lighted in raking up old councils and Papal bulls 
that had lain buried for ages, and he detailed 
them with a dull and a drowsy minuteness. If he 
showed any learning, it was of this kind, and had 
lain on the shelf for ages, so covered with dust, 
that the ears and eyes of the auditors were enve- 
loped in the cloud that he raised when he touched 
these ancient and decayed relics. Curran used 
to say, it was M like the unrolling of a mummy, — 
nothing but old bones and rotten rags" His speeches 
were pamphlets; his pamphlets were libels. It 
was singular that any society of men could have 
listened to him, though even Ireland was the sub- 
ject of his calumny ; and it may be truly said that 
the greatest censure of Mr. Pitt's government was 
to support or to be supported by such a character. 
He did not, however, undergo these labours for 
nothing, or wade through the mire of political 
controversy and national vituperation without fee 
or reward. All his imperfections were, in the 
eyes of the British minister, considered as qualifi- 
cations for office and honour. The more he calum- 
niated his country, the more he raised himself. 
He was espoused by the minister in England, as 
well as by the minister in Ireland, and by the 
church in both countries. He was considered the 
champion of the established religion, and the 
defender of the true faith. He was appointed 
Surrogate to the High Court of Admiralty, and 
Advocate-General to the King, — Vicar-general of 
the Metropolitan Court of Armagh, — Judge of the 
Prerogative Court of Ireland, — Vicar-general of 
the Consistorial Court. He was named one of 
the commissioners for distributing compensation 
at the period of the Union ; — he was then elected 
h 2 




a member of the Imperial Parliament for the 
borough belonging to the Archbishop of Armagh ; 
and as a climax of his rewards, he was appointed 
member of the Privy Council of Ireland, and 
there his name will ever remain on record, to 
shew posterity how easy it was for a minister 
to injure and insult a nation, without dread of 
censure, feelings of remorse, or fear of punish- 

It is worth examining whether the Catholics 
merited the treatment and abuse which they had 
so long received. And let it be first observed, 
that in all public questions, although the Catho- 
lics accompanied their measures with some vio- 
lence and some imprudence, yet they spoke like 
men belonging to a nation. 

In the year 1715, after the penal code was 
riveted upon them without hope of end, — when 
the cause of the House of Stuart was alive, and 
the Hanoverian succession recent, and rebellion 
broke out in Scotland, the Irish Catholics did not 
take up arms. In 1746, a rebellion broke out in 
the same place. The son of their late prince was in 

* A ludicrous anecdote is related of this individual, — a proof rather 
of insanity than of courage. He had grossly insulted Sir Richard 
Borough in the law courts. A message was in consequence sent to 
Jiim, and he drove to the ground in his carriage, leaving his coachman 
on the box while he took his position opposite Sir Richard. The 
pistols were loaded and laid at his feet, and the ground measured ; but 
Duigenan declined to take them up. Mr. Fleming, who was second to 
Sir Richard, called on him to do so : he refused, and being again called 
on, he again refused, and called out to Sir Richard, " Fire away, you 
rascal!" This Sir Richard would not do, and he was withdrawn from 
the ground. Mr. Fleming then told Duigenan that if he considered Sir 
Richard as not entitled to satisfaction, he was ready to take his place. 
On which Duigenan, taking him by the hand, said, " Oh, my dear 
friend, the farthest thing from my mind would be to fire at you. 11 
Duigenan being afterwards asked what he meant by such strange con- 
duct, and why he declined to fire, replied, " If the fellow had missed 
the first shot and the second shot, I would have taken my pistol and 
walked up to him ; and if he had not begged his life, I would have 
blown out his brains ; and if he begged to live, I would have taken my 
penknife and cut off his ear!" 




the field, with all the recommendation of youth, 
all the appearance of romantic enterprise, and 
some likelihood of success : the Irish Catholics 
did not rebel. In 1759 a descent was made upon 
Ireland by the subjects of a Catholic monarch : 
they did not rise in arms. In 1779 a descent was 
apprehended from the same quarter : Ireland had 
no army, no Volunteers ; and England — the glory 
and strength of England was gone, and she was 
unequal to her enemies by sea and land : the 
Catholics did not rise. In 1781, another descent 
was apprehended : the Catholics did not rise. 
Thus they beheld the empire in its zenith and its 
decline, without prosperity or insurrection. 

At the period when the armed associations 
sprang up, the Catholics in the southern parts of 
Ireland fell into the constitutional file, and when 
the Volunteers expressed their sentiments, and 
signed the declaration of rights as an article of 
union and association, the Catholics did not de- 
cline ; and a body of them joined one of the corps 
to which Mr. Grattan belonged, and subscribed 
the declaration to maintain the independency of 
the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland. The 
county of Galway, that was full of Catholics, dis- 
played at the outset a public fire and constitu- 
tional ardour, that reflected upon them the highest 
honour. That high-minded people took the lead 
in the non-importation agreement ; they took the 
lead in the six months' money bill ; they expressed 
themselves most decidedly on the subject of the 
Irish constitution ; and most unequivocally repro- 
bated the Perpetual Mutiny Bill, and on that sub- 
ject this county produced a famous publication, 
written with the pen of classic taste, the fire of a 
freeman, and the depth of a politician.* Thus had 

* Denis Daly most likely assisted in it. 


the Catholics acted ; but the British Minister and 
the Parliament always trifled with the passions of 
Ireland. Friendly at one moment, faithless at 
another, they were, in 1792, the very reverse of 
what they were in 1793. They granted timidly; 
they granted unsteadily. They first fired the ap- 
petite, and then wanted discretion and boldness to 
allay it, by granting liberally. They acted to- 
wards the Catholics in a political way, as they 
before had acted towards the Protestants in a 
commercial one : — instead of repealing at once the 
restrictive laws on trade, they only granted, in 
1775, a power to export cloth to the Irish troops 
in America, and a power of fishing for whales in 
Newfoundland I They then granted, in 1778, a 
power to export all Irish manufactures except 
cotton and woollen ! and to import all the growth 
of the plantations except their principal produce ; 
and in 1779 they granted a power of growing 
tobacco, which afterwards was repealed. They 
now proceeded with respect to the Catholics, to 
adopt a policy equally barren and equally foolish. 
They hoped to continue that body from year to 
year in a continual state of good behaviour, feeding 
them, as mendicants, on their bounty; and instead 
of gratified and heartened subjects, to retain them 
the humble candidates for the spare and measured 
charity of a cunning Parliament. Nothing could 
be more contemptible or silly than this policy. 
Like a courtezan measuring out her favours, rais- 
ing their passions, agitating and wearing out their 
heart by endless coquetry and dalliance, they 
forgot that, wedded to this body as fellow-subjects, 
they should not practise on their feelings, nor 
cheat their affections. 

By this irritating bounty, and by this policy, 
which discovered a wish to mollify, not to serve, 
the nation,— which disclosed a disposition (rather 





an apprehension than a desire) to give, — by this 
timid yielding and provoking strain of equivocal 
concession, they inflamed the country ; they 
fired the passions of the Irish, and taught them 
wishes and ambition, until at length their claim of 
right,* Protestant and Catholic, came thundering 
at the door of the Senate House, at the instance of 
a baffled and indignant nation, with which the 
British Minister was forced to comply, without 
thanks or limitation. Such was the system adopted 
towards Ireland. 

At the outset of the proceedings, in 1793, a con- 
siderable difficulty threatened the Catholic ques- 
tion, and from a high quarter in England. But 
Mr. Grattan, who was concerned in the negotia- 
tion, very fortunately got over it, and thereby 
avoided much delay, and probably some disagree- 
ment in opinion and sentiment. Lord Loughbo- 
rough at this period held the seals in England. 
He expected to obtain them at the period of the 
Regency ; but as the current of politics seldom 
runs smooth, he was out-manoeuvred by their 
possessor, Lord Thurlow, who seems on this occa- 
sion to have outwitted himself, as well as Lord 
Loughborough. Pending the negotiation, and to 
satisfy Lord Thurlow on the subject, Mr. Fox was 
induced to go to Lord Loughborough, who was 
sitting at the time in his court, and tell him he 
must give up all idea of the seals, as they were the 
only thing that could be given to satisfy Lord 
Thurlow. Thus both parties were destined to be 
punished — Lord Loughborough for the imprudent 
advice he gave Mr. Fox, and Lord Thurlow for 
the insincere support he gave Mr. Pitt. This 
conduct of Lord Thurlow, and the private inter- 
views he had held with the Prince, awakened the 
suspicions and dislike of Mr. Pitt, and the parties 

- 1779, 1782, 1792,1793, 1829. 



did not long remain together on friendly terms. 
Coldness and reserve so marked the conduct of 
the Chancellor, that at length the Minister stated 
to the King that they could not continue in office 
together, and that he would not form part of the 
administration if Lord Thurlow remained. On 
this occasion Mr. Pitt showed great ingratitude ; 
for he was much indebted to Lord Thurlow, who, 
after Mr. Fox's India Bill, had advised the King 
to make Mr. Pitt First Lord of the Treasury and 
Chancellor of the Exchequer. The King asked 
if he was not too young. Lord Thurlow replied 
that he was a man of talent, and would well unite 
the two offices. But now, at the instance of Mr. 
Pitt, he was dismissed. Accordingly the King 
wrote to say, " how painful it was to be forced to 
part with so faithful a servant (he was Chancellor 
for 13 years) ; that it was a great sacrifice, but he 
was obliged to do it, as Mr. Pitt would not remain 
in office along with him." He desired him to 
choose his time for giving up the seals, to finish 
the business of his court, and to dispose of the 
small places in his gift among his friends. Lord 
Thurlow,* however, did not think this letter sin- 
cere ; and his executor, who found it among his 
papers, and who gave this account of it, found also 
Lord Thurlow's remarks upon the King, in which 
he stated " that the King had deceived all his 
Ministers, and was most civil and courteous to the 
person whom at that very moment he was going 
to turn out: — he loves to make a bishop, and his 
object, throughout his reign, has been to beat down 

* A passage in Milton was said to apply very justly to Lord 
Thurlow : — 

* * u Deep on his front engraven 

Deliberation sat and public care." 
Some one having observed, in Mr. Fox's company, that Lord Thurlow 
was an impostor, — " Yes," said Fox, " there never was a man half so 
wise as Lord Thurlow looks." 




the aristocracy of England" The individual who 
succeeded Lord Thurlow as Chancellor, had per- 
formed various parts in politics. He had been 
counsel in J 774 against Dr. Franklin, who had 
been summoned before the Privy Council as agent 
to the Province of Massachusetts, from whence a 
petition had been forwarded for the removal of the 
Governor and Lieut. -Governor, in consequence of 
their letters advising that the liberties of the 
Americans should be restrained, that penalties 
should be imposed on them, and that their 
charters should be altered. Doctor Franklin hav- 
ing procured these letters, gave them to be pub- 
lished, and hence arose great indignation at the 
disclosure, and at the mode by which they were 
said to have been obtained. On this, Lord Lough- 
borough(then Mr. Wedderburne) inveighed against 
Franklin in the most violent and unmeasured 
terms, accusing him of robbery and forgery, and 
applying to him these words, — "I forged the letter 
— I hated — I despised — and I destroy. But what 
poetic fiction only had penned for the breast of a 
cruel African, Doctor Franklin has realized and 
transcribed from his own." Altogether it was said 
to have been one of the most singular speeches 
ever delivered in any court of justice. His feel- 
ings with regard to Ireland were of a nature 
similar to those with regard to America ; and it 
was singular that a man brought up under a free 
constitution, and enjoying its benefits, should have 
profited so little by its precepts, or prized so little 
its acquisition, as to have, in toto, opposed its ex- 
tension to the people of Ireland. For, singular to 
say, he was the only man in the House of Lords 
who, in 1782, opposed the rights of Ireland upon 
principle ; and when the Bill for the repeal of the 
6th Geo. 1st was brought in, he stood up singly 
to oppose it, saying that it ought not to be a total 


repeal, nor an unqualified repeal ; that Poyning's 
law should still be kept in force ; nor could he 
conceive that the Perpetual Mutiny Bill was a 
grievance of which the Irish should complain ! ! 

It may be well supposed that such principles 
were not great recommendations in the mind of 
Mr. Grattan ; but the latter knew his character, 
and that he could change his opinions as suited 
his purpose, and assume or lay them down, just 
as served his interest or his ambition. He was a 
very agreeable man, an excellent scholar, fond 
of literature and of polite society. In address he 
was affable, and in manner polished, and even 
elegant ; but he was unsafe in council, rash in his 
advice, and versatile in his politics. He had a 
hot head, and would do mischief rather than do 
nothing ; he seemed almost to be fond of it, and 
by his advice had brought Mr. Fox into a difficulty 
as to the Regency. He now proposed a plan as 
regarded the Catholics, somewhat similar to that 
which had been attempted in 1 782-— namely, the 
delay of the question, and a cabinet negotiation ; the 
consequence of which would have been inextri- 
cable confusion. He accordingly wrote to Mr. 
Grattan, with whom he had a previous acquaint- 
ance,* suggesting an adjournment of the House, 

* An anecdote regarding this individual, afforded much amusement to 
Mr. Grattan's friends, and among others, to the late Lord Holland (that 
excellent personage, — so noble so generous, so high minded, so uni- 
versally respected and beloved.) Lord Loughborough prided 
himself on the correctness of his language and his polished style 
in speaking. It was said that he used to study, not only the arts of 
rhetoric, but the attitudes likewise. On one occasion, being in com- 
pany with Mr. Grattan, he was conversing about the Irish Parliament 
and the oratory of the Irish people. He alluded to Mr. Grattan's 
attack on Mr. Flood. " That figure of yours, Mr. Grattan, exceeded 
all license; 'hovering like an ill-omened bird of night;' the whole of 
that was very extraordinary, very severe indeed.'' The company were 
amused by the earnestness of Lord Loughborough's manner, as well as by 
the nature of his remark. He, however, persevered, " that was a very 
extraordinary sentence — very severe — very cutting!'' Mr. Grattan 
looked surprised, and those present were puzzled to know how he 



and obscurely intimating some project, which in 
fact was nothing but an incipient union. Mr. 
Grattan did not enter into these views ; and 
though his letters to Lord Loughborough are not 
to be found, it is clear from his former, as well as 
his subsequent conduct, that such a proposition 
could meet with little encouragement from him. 
He was not induced to go to London on his sug- 
gestion, but thought it a wiser course to press the 
question forward as speedily as possible, and 
reconcile, as far as lay in his power, the various 
opposing and discordant parties in the state. 


January, 1793. 
My Dear Sir, — I must borrow my Secretary's pen for 
a moment, though I am not sure it will be for the advan- 
tage of the request I have to state to you ; but as I do 
nut write only from myself, I have no right to delegate 
that trust which is committed to me, according to an old 
legal maxim. 

Your presence here, at this most important crisis, is 
most anxiously wished by all those, who, I firmly believe, 
have nothing more at heart than the mutual prosperity, 
entire confidence, and perfect tranquillity of both our 
countries. No prejudice of any kind can exist which 
should obstruct such objects. Your opinions, I think, I 
partly know ; your principles, I am sure I do; and both, I 
believe, have no other tendency than the public welfare. 
I can add, that I am persuaded the same ideas are enter- 
tained of them by those to whom (I hope on just grounds, 
and on full explanations) I have given my confidence. 

If there could be by adjournment, a cessation of active 
measures ; if in that interval all irregular modes of discussion 
could be prevented or frustrated, and it should be employed 
in a fair and candid discussion of the several points which 
seem necessary to settle the situation of Ireland in a just con- 
formity to that of England, and icith a due share of the 
general fortune of the whole empire, prosperous or adverse, by 

would extricate himself; when, bowing very civilly to Lord Lough- 
borough, he simply replied in his own words, " Very cutting, indeed, 
my lord." Lord Loughborough felt the allusion. 

108 lord Loughborough's letters [chap. iv. 

an adequate communication of interests, I am perfectly 
assured your satisfaction in such a result would be equal 
to mine ; and I may, in confidence of your good opinion, 
venture to assert to you, that the hope of such a conclusion 
of the present untoward circumstances, was a chief in- 
ducement to me to engage in the arduous task I have 

I under-rate the importance of the object when I state it, 
as only regarding the two islands we belong to. The 
peace of mankind may finally depend upon it. I flatter 
myself, then, you will not resist my invitation ; I make it 
as one who wishes to be ranked amongst your friends, for 
respect and esteem for your virtues. 1 should be war- 
ranted to state it to you, in a character that I have not 
long possessed, without the least dread of being dis- 
avowed ; but I put in a higher claim to your confidence by 
writing to you, in the assurance of our respective inten- 
tions not being misunderstood by either ; and, leaving it 
to your own judgment to take my communications either 
as merely private, or as in some degree appertaining to 
my public duty, as you think most expedient in respect to 
the measures you may be obliged to hold with others, my 
wish would be on my own account, that the knowledge 
might rest between ourselves and the two Secretaries,* to 
one of whom I beg particularly to express my best 
respects, and I leave the rest to the other to say, I am, 
with great regard, dear Sir, your most sincerely, 



2\st February, 1793. 

My dear Sir, — I feel as I ought the confidence you 
repose in me, with respect to the difficulty that impedes 
your embracing the idea I had thrown out in my letter to 
you ; and I shall, with equal frankness to yours, state to 
you the reasons which 1 think should remove them. 

Permit me, in the first place, to observe to you, that 
what I proposed was not properly a negotiation, which I 
understand to be a business of reconciling opposite, or at 
least, separate views and interests. There are not, as I 
Conceive, two parties on the important subject, which a 
free communication I believe would effectually clear up; 
sure I am there are no opposite interests to be reconciled. 
Whatever is the real interest of Ireland must be the in- 
* Hobart and Hutchinson. 




terest of Great Britain on a just and liberal scheme of 
policy. We have marked with attention, and without 
jealousy, the progress of your improvement ; we must be 
weak and short-sighted, indeed, not to observe that the 
Administration must be adapted to the change of situ- 
ation, and must be founded on the firm basis of public 
confidence and esteem ; that to be respected, it must be 
responsible, and cannot subsist by favour and protection 
from any external support. 

It has not appeared to me that any of the ideas which 
have gained the favour of respectable men in your country, 
are bad in their outline; but they will require great care, 
and much temper, in filling up that outline. 

If the enemies of all the measures which must come into 
discussion, were to be the coadjutors of the conference 
upon them, I should expect little benefit from it, but on 
the supposition (of which I am firmly persuaded) that of 
those who may attend it, several have the fairest desire to 
listen to every proposition, and to weigh every argument 
impartially. I do not think that any inconvenience could 
result even from the greatest opposition of opinions ; 
which, however, I do not think would be the case ; for I 
believe the various opinions that have been held in Ireland 
are not in truth so remote from each other as they appear 
to be from some personal and private dispositions to differ, 
or, perhaps from the habit of differing. 

As to the second part in your letter, I entirely agree 
with you that it is necessary all questions of such moment 
as now affect the public mind in Ireland, should receive a 
full discussion in Parliament; and it was by no means 
with a view to prevent that full discussion that I sug- 
gested the idea of a temporary cessation. My idea is 
plainly this ; that at a convenient moment the usual busi- 
ness being advanced to a due point, an interval should 
take place by prorogation, for a very few weeks, under the 
idea of affording time to provide, and arrange the force 
you have very handsomely voted,* and that by a direct 
intercourse here, advantage should be taken of that 
interval to discuss fairly a settlement of all questions, not 
for the moment only, but as jar as our own views can reach, 
for the permanent connected establishment of Ireland, both 
internally, and relatively to England. Circumstances of 
less general import, and yet of great weight in removing 
obstacles, may in the mean time take place, which would 
* The militia were called out, and the regular army augmented. 


possibly contribute much to the facility of execution, 
which is almost impossible during the agitation of de- 
bate. To this idea 1 foresee but one objection, which may 
spring from a doubt, whether a very unjust advantage 
might not be taken of such a delay, to put an abrupt 
period to the whole business for the present. In answer 
to that, I can only say, that such a measure would be so 
foolish, as well as so base, that I think I ask little when I 
claim your protection against that imputation, if it ever 
should be suggested. I have now submitted to you my 
ideas, without reserve, and after some discussion on the 
subject of your letter with others who have as much de- 
sire almost (for I will not say altogether, as my private 
reasons cannot be shared by them) to have a free confer- 
ence with you. 

I write by this post to Hutchinson, but more guardedly, 
and therefore I wish my ire to remain between ourselves, 
if you please : his presence here might be of service ; 
yours, I am persuaded, would be of the greatest. Sus- 
picious, I am sure, it could be to no one ; you can only be 
responsible for your absence ; # and although to be autho- 
rised by the people, is in itself impossible, I am confident 
they would ratify and applaud what had received your 
approbation, and merited your support. I am, my dear 
Sir, yours very sincerely, 

I leave my compliments to Mrs.Grattan by Lady L. 

The letters of Mr. Burke and his son on the 
passing of the Catholic measure are deserving of 
notice. The remarks on Lord Clare's character 
and conduct confirm what has been already stated 
of that person. The sentiments of Mr. Burke 
will be found to apply to the present times 
and to the two parties in the state with as much 
force now as in the period when they were ex- 
pressed. Little did Mr. Burke imagine that this 
religious contest would continue so long, and that 
what he wrote in 1793, would apply to the year 
1841. So slow is the progress of the human 
mind, and the march of noble and generous sen- 

* Mr. Grattan, did not, however, go over. 


timents, and so difficult their victory over the 
passions and prejudices of mankind. 


February 2M, 1793. 
My dear Sir, — I am afraid I have much more reason 
than you have to apologize, for delaying to acknowledge 
the receipt of a letter. I might indeed plead business, if 
any thing that I can do, especially in such a time as this, 
can be entitled to so important an appellation ; though, 
indeed, as Shakspeare says, " all men have business and 
desires, such as they are;" but the world is too much 
interested in every thing you do, not to allow you a 
plenary indulgence for any delays or omissions in the 
lesser offices of life. I do not therefore expect a punctual 
correspondence from you, though I shall always rejoice to 
be informed by your communications, and honoured with 
your commands. I believe I may safely say, there never 
was a time in which your conduct was of more importance to 
the public, or in which you rendered it more effectual service, 
than by the line you took at the beginning of the sessions, and 
have since pursued. It is indeed glorious for you to be 
what you are, — the only real prop and stay of Government 
in Ireland at this perilous moment ; being situated as you 
are with regard to that Government, there is no man who 
can at all observe, that is not truly sensible of the mag- 
nanimity and wisdom of your conduct. If this was other- 
wise, I know you have that within which would set you 
above the unjust opinions of the world. That there should 
be some (whether it originates with your political oppo- 
nents, I know not) to whom your recent merits are only an 
additional motive of calumny, you will not be surprised to 
hear. You may be assured that neither my father (who is 
infinitely flattered by the expression of your letter relative 
to him) nor myself omit any opportunity of doing justice 
to our own sentiments with regard to you ; and 1 have the 
pleasure of knowing, that your services are known and 
properly felt by those who are most concerned by being 
most immediately responsible for the welfare of the em- 

I could certainly have wished that the Catholic Bill had 
gone farther. What is done, is not done in an ingenuous 
or a clever manner, but with a grudging and suspicious 
hand, such as marks the authors of the measure. Upon 



the whole, however, I think it would be good policy in the 
Catholics to acquiesce, and -even to testify satisfaction. It 
will be the best way to secure both the profitable enjoy- 
ment of the present concessions, and a speedy extension of 
them. On the other hand, if they continue discontented, 
it will seem mulish and insatiable. People will say not 
only " crudelis tu quoque mater? but " improbus ille puer." 
Considering all things, the interference and recommenda- 
tion of the Crown was some effort, and attended with some 
hazard ; and the beneficial effects are solid : so that, as 
there is a time for all things under the sun, this is the 
time for the return of good humour, and I trust it will not 
be deficient on either side. 

The ministerial ranks seemed to have rallied against 
your Parliamentary Reform; so I suppose it will be lost. 
I should not object to some measure of that sort, (which 
the state of Ireland seems to require,) but for its conse- 
quential operation in this country, where, though the cases 
are different, the principle also applies. It is certainly a 
critical measure, and whatever is done upon it I wish to 
be proposed from a seat of power, in which alone such 
measures are susceptible of their due modifications; for 
this reason, among others, I regret it has been brought on 
so soon ; and if it should not be carried, I trust the effect 
(which is indeed the essence of all political measures) will 
be produced by salutary regulations of other kinds. What 
is Ponsonby's plan ? 

Our war — a necessary war, if ever there was one — is 
growing every day more popular. Nothing can exceed the 
spirit of the detachment of Guards we sent off the other 
day, and the enthusiasm of the people in taking leave of, 
and in attending them to Deptford. Our accounts from 
Holland are, on the whole, good, and announce a vigorous 
and determined defence ; and there is reason to hope that 
the reluctance with which we are engaged in the war, will 
not be attended with ill effects. 

Present my best respects to Mrs. Grattan, of whose 
amendment, however, you say nothing ; I therefore con- 
clude it to be progressive. — Believe me to be, my dear Sir, 
yours most sincerely, R. Burke. 


Duke Street, March 8th, 1793. 
My dear Sir, — I most sincerely congratulate you, and 


both these countries, on the final success, in the House of 
Commons, of the last, and the greatest effort of your 
genius. Your wonderful abilities were never more distin- 
guished, nor in a better cause. You have restored three 
millions of citizens to their King and their country: in 
reality they had not the benefit of either the one or the 
other ; indeed, they were lost to themselves. There was 
even a circumstance in the melioration of their condition, 
which made it in some respects worse ; as it exposed them 
more to the jealousy, and made them more the objects of 
the fears, of the ruling party, without any real strength on 
their part to oppose to those passions. I speak, you 
observe, as if, in obtaining thus much for the Catholics, 
you had obtained every thing. 1 do so, when the title is 
fully admitted, when an interlocutory decree, leading to a 
final judgment, is given, the business in effect is done. 
You have brought things nearer this year to a complete 
equality in favour of the Catholics, than last session they 
were to the most parsimonious grant of the elective fran- 
chise. If you can pass this bill through the Lords with 
any tolerable good humour, I shall not only consider the 
great object as substantially gained, but more usefully 
gained in this progressive mode, than if nominally more 
had been obtained with the grudging and ill-will of the 
predominant party. Their exclusive liberty, as they pos- 
sessed it, was nut freedom, but dominion, and must naturallij 
produce in them haughtiness by the habit of holding it, 
and rancour, and indignation, by the total and immediate 
loss of it. That description must, and perhaps ought, to 
possess the sole patronage. Their satisfaction, of course, is 
of moment. It ivou/d be no great bargain for the Catholics 
to obtain a capacity for everything, with the enjoyment of 
nothing at all. 

The great object now remaining is to make this measure 
of concession on the one hand, and of reservation on the 
other, subservient to the country, and the strength of the 
empire. The spirit of jobbing in the principal people 
must, some way or other, be abated, and kept in some 
degree of moderation. It will be then more easy to get 
the better of the mutinous spirit, which is in the very 
constitution of the lower part of our compatriots of every 
description, and now begins to ferment, with tenfold force, 
by the leaven of republicanism which always existed, 
though without much noise, in the northern parts of the 


kingdom, but now becomes more evident, and requires no 
small degree both of firm and prudent management. 

I confess I tremble for the conduct of the Chancellor* who 
seems for a long time past desirous of putting himself at the 
head of whatever discontents may arise from concessions to the 
Catholics, when things are on the very edge of a precipice, or 
indeed between two precipices ; he appears resolved that they 
shall be tumbled headlong down one of them. Surely, of all 
virtues, temper more eminently belongs, than any other, to 
that balancing office ; whatever other qualities or talents 
unite in that noble and learned person who holds the 
great seal, temper does not shine with any remarkable 

All this depends upon having a Government. Govern- 
ment seems to be a thing given up in Ireland. During the 
interregnum, the vacant place is filled by one man, who appears 
rather as a great and steady minister, than a leader of 
opposition : without his virtue and constancy all would have 
gone to ruinf — " Patriam tutore carentem accepit." It is 
unpleasant to be obliged to contrast his conduct with that 
of a great leader of party on this side of the water. J 

It gives me great consolation, among a thousand vexa- 
tious circumstances, to reflect, that my son, who is so 
much devoted to you, has been of some use as pioneer to 
you, who, as a great general, have conducted the opera- 
tions of the campaign. In his two journeys to Ireland he 
has done his best, and he has employed himself as a soli- 
citor, or rather as a dunn, with Ministers, both by verbal 
representation and memorials on this subject; and perhaps 
has been of some use in removing prejudices and obviating 

Present Mrs. Burke's and my most respectful compli- 
ments to Mrs. Grattan ; and believe me ever, with the 
highest possible respect and regard, my dear Sir, your 
most faithful and obedient humble servant, 

Edmund Burke. 

* Fitzgibbon, Lord Clare. f Mr. Grattan. 

X Mr. Fox ; but at this period he and Mr. Burke had quarrelled. 



Parliamentary Reform — State of representation — History of Irish 
boroughs — Wm. Ponsonby supports Reform — Mr. Grattan moves 
for a committee — Mr. Corry's amendment — Mr. Grattan's resolutions 
— Sir John Parnell's carried — Mr. Toler's motion — Stewart (Lord 
Castlereagh) speaks in favour of it — Measure lost — Bad effect in Ire- 
land — British Corresponding- Societies — Artifices of Mr. Dundas 
(Lord Melville) — Formation of United Irishmen — Counter associa- 
tion by the Duke of Leinster — Parties in Ireland — Disposition of her 
governors, and conduct of Lord Clare — French Revolution — Death 
of Louis XVI. — War with England — Defenders — Report of Lords' 
Committee — Catholics cleared of the charges against them — Procla- 
mation by Government — Lord Edward Fitzgerald's speech — Volun- 
teers dispersed — Their cannon seized — Arms and Gunpowder Bill — 
Sir Simon Butler and Oliver Bond imprisoned by the House of Lords 
— Convention Bill — Place, Pension, and Barren Land Bills — The 
hereditary revenue yielded by the King — End of Session, 1793 — List 
of placemen. 

The other important question that engaged the 
attention of Parliament this year was the reform 
in the representation. This subject had greatly- 
agitated both kingdoms of late ; but as regarded 
Ireland, it had lain dormant in Parliament since 
1784, when Mr. Flood had a second time pro- 
posed his bill on the subject. The resolutions of 
the people, their requests and remonstrances, 
were alike unheeded, and a deaf ear had been 
turned to their complaints ; but the injurious im- 
pression made by the armed convention of 1783 
had either been effaced or forgotten, and the 
question was now revived with a greater likeli- 
hood of success. It was, however, taken up 
rather late, and was supported with insincerity by 
the Government. 

It is to be observed, that in the Irish represen- 
i 2 



tation, the people formed no part of the Constitu- 
tion ; there was no such body as what the French 
called " Tiers etat," and what the British Consti- 
tution called the Commons. The Irish had a king, 
a chamber of nobles, and another chamber, elected 
by the nobles, and supported by the Government 
and the Crown; and the result of this combination 
amounted to the establishment of a court cabinet 
over Ireland, and the transfer of legislation to 

The detail of the state of Irish representation at 
this time is curious, very mortifying, not very 
interesting. Of 300 members of Parliament, 200 
were chosen by 100 individuals; so that of these, 
each individual had on an average two representa- 
tives. Near 50 of the 200 were elected by 10 
individuals ; so that, of these, each man had five 
representatives. This oligarchy was as little the 
representative of property as of population. 200 
of these members were returned by persons whose 
property did not average above 4000/. a-year; — 
this, too, in a country whose grants were above 
3,000,000/., and whose rental was calculated at 
6,000,000/. They received in stipend from the 
Crown an income bearing a great proportion to 
their own property ; so that they were an oligar- 
chy taxing for their own provision, and represent- 
ing nothing but their dependency. 

In addition, the Minister had found out the art 
of buying their boroughs, as well as pensioning 
their persons. He even trafficked, as has been 
already stated, the seats of one house to purchase 
those of another ; and by this double operation, 
the people, without perceiving it, bought the Par- 
liament for the Minister, against themselves! In 
fact, the Irish Minister was nothing more than the 
agent of the cabinet of England ; and the result 
of the whole machinery appeared to be a complete 


transfer to Great Britain of legislative power, 
founded on the abuse of every principle, political 
or moral, on the subversion of the parliamentary 
constitution of the country, and on the suppression 
of all native influence, popular or proprietary, — 
and of public liberty, as well as virtue. 

Such a state amounted to a constitution which 
was not a representation either of property or of 
population; nor of property and population mixed; 
— nor was it an aristocracy (which is not the best 
constitution) ; nor an oligarchy (which is a bad 
constitution); nor a despotism (which is perhaps 
the worst constitution) ; — but it was the despotic 
power of another country. 

In support of such a state of representation, 
nothing could be advanced. It could not stand 
upon its antiquity ; on the contrary, it was a 
recent and an audacious innovation. Forty of the 
boroughs, — that is, near one-third of the represen- 
tation, and near one-half of the boroughs, — were 
made by James I. for the avowed purpose of over- 
turning the parliamentary constitution of Ireland. 
Afterwards, 37 boroughs were created — one by 
Anne, two by James II., and the remainder by 
the two Charles's ; so that 148 members — nearly 
half the House of Commons, and more than half 
of its efficient members — were fabricated since the 
accession of the House of Stuart, and by the 
House of Stuart, the worst house that ever go- 
verned England, and, except James II., the worst 
princes of that house. 

The fabrication of those boroughs was for the 
purpose of subverting the constitution of Parlia- 
ment, by modelling the representation to the de- 
struction of Irish influence, and the domination of 
a Court influence in the Irish Parliament. The 
causes that moved, and the circumstances that 
attended the creation of 40 of these boroughs by 


James, are related by the historian.* It was to 
model Parliament and destroy the constitution of 
the realm, by introducing the influence of the 
Crown into Parliament, in order to oust the 
people. He states that a number of new boroughs 
were created, most of them inconsiderable, and 
many of them too poor to afford wages to their 
members ; that such an accession of power could 
not fail to encourage the administration to act 
without reserve, and pursue the dictates of their 
own passion and resentment. The representatives 
of these boroughs were the clerks of attorneys, 
and the servants of the Lord Deputy. 

Such was the history of one-third of the repre- 
sentation and one-half of the borough constitution. 
The remainder were created, except the few of 
James II. and Anne, by the two Charles's, for 
the avowed purpose either of conferring personal 
favour on individuals, or establishing a Court 
majority in Parliament. This appears from the 
tenor of the grants, or from the historians and 
memorialists of the time. Thence it is that the 
rotten boroughs were justly called abuses in the 
Constitution. But the mischief was under-rated ; 
for they were gross and monstrous violations, 
recent and wicked innovations, — not the abuses of 
the Constitution, but its abolition. So that, with 
the assistance of a Court Parliament, the King 
introduced into the realm influence, not civiliza- 
tion, and tampered with and tainted the gentlemen 
of the country with the arts of venality, and gave 
the Irish ideas of vice, but not of refinement. 

It was in vain to expect that an oligarchy, or a 
constitution of boroughs, could hold out against 
the Crown. A few individuals of a nobler nature 
might distinguish their name, and sacrifice their 
emolument ; but oligarchy must ever be a slave, 

* See Dr. Leland's History of Ireland. 


— an expensive and circuitous despotism, — a little 
garrison in the enemy's country, certain to be 
besieged by the King, and certain to sell the fort, 
and march out of the old walls without the honors 
of war. The Irish people were turned out of the 
House by the family of the Stuarts, to give w r ay 
to 148 borough members ; and they were after- 
wards obliged by Government to pay, it was 
stated,* half a million to those very borough 
members, in order to make them vote against the 
country. The people were first annihilated by an 
oligarchy ; and when that oligarchy, in the course 
of years, began to amalgamate, and incorporate 
somewhat with the country, so as, by certain 
accidental combinations,! to give the public voice 
some chance of influence in the House of Com- 
mons, that oligarchy was bought in detail to de- 
tach it from the common interest, and the people 
were turned even from the threshold of their own 
house by a host of placemen and pensioners, who 
had deserted to the Minister from the nation and 
the oligarchy, and who afterwards voted new 
loans and taxes to provide for the wages of their 
own apostacy. 

Such was the state of the Irish Parliament, 
against which the people so often protested, and 
which they strove in vain to remedy. At length, 
on the 14th of January, 1793, Mr. Wm. (after- 
wards Lord) Ponsonby announced his intention of 
submitting to the House a motion for reform in 
the representation of the people. Support from 
this quarter was remarkable; and after he had 
spoken, Mr. Conolly rose, and to the still greater 
surprise of many, declared that he also meant to 
support the measure, observing that, in 1783, 

* See Vol. I. Also Lord Clare's Declaration, 1789, ante Vol. III. 
p. 388. 

f Volunteers of 1779 and 1782. 




when the proposition had come from an armed 
body seated in the metropolis, he had opposed it; 
but since that period, public grievances had in- 
creased, and remedies had not been applied to 
heal them ; he therefore recommended Govern- 
ment to turn their attention to the subject of 
reform. He added, that he respected Lord West- 
moreland as a private individual ; but, as a public 
character, he thought that, for the benefit of the 
country, he ought to be recalled. 

Mr. Grattan, aware of the importance of the 
subject, and of the additional weight it derived 
from such influential support, expressed himself 
as follows, paying a just tribute of praise to the 
Ponsonby family : — 

" Never, since I have sat in Parliament, did I hear words 
that gave me more satisfaction. I have been near seven- 
teen years a member of Parliament, and never did I hear 
in this house oratory more convincing or transporting. I 
feel myself young, and my mind possessed with rapture 
little known to men of my time of life, except on such an 
occasion as this. I had myself intended to have brought 
forth the question of the reform of Parliament, but I did 
not wish to pre-occupy such a question, for what right had 
I to earn popularity at the expense of other men ? These 
are the gentlemen who ought to lead in this great 
question — the men who make the sacrifices, — to them be- 
long the laurel, — be it my humble office to follow on this 
subject, and to applaud. 

" And while along the stream of time their name 
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame, 

Say, shall this little bark " 

" This is not the first time in which the right honourable 
gentleman has made sacrifices to the country. In 1769, 
that gentleman, and all his connexions, were deprived of all 
their emoluments, for supporting the privileges of this house 
against an altered Money Bill. In 1789, they were also dis- 
missed, for defending the privilege of the two Houses of Par- 
liament against an unconstitutional and condemned Vice- 
roy ; # and now they advance a third time to surrender great 
power, all their monopolies, and to embark in the vessel of 
* Marquess of Buckingham. 



the Commonwealth, and fairly and proudly to rise or fall 
with the fortunes of their country. They judge rightly ; 
their natural situation in this country is so considerable, 
that whatever family sacrifices they make to the public 
weal, they must always occupy a prime condition from 
their property, character, integrity, and talents. 

" The question of Parliamentary Reform is now fairly 
brought forth; it consists, I think, of two parts, — external 
and internal. The external relates to the creation of the 
House of Commons; the internal to its corruption. A 
radical reformation in both is indispensable ; — first, it 
is indispensable that the House of Commons should be 
chosen by the people; second, that after it is chosen by 
the people, it should not be bought by the Ministers ; in 
either of these cases, and still more in both, the people are 
not represented. The House of Commons is not chosen by 
them ; the house is governed by the Minister. The people 
have not the blessings of the Constitution ; they are not 
represented ; — they are deprived of that great and invalu- 
able blessing supposed to be possessed by the electors of 
this kingdom, the blessing of being represented ; and ac- 
cordingly we find the House of Commons the organ of a 
will, other than that of the people. This is an abuse so 
evident and so fatal, that 1 need not impress it more deeply 
upon you ; indeed you seem fully sensible of it; and now, 
w hen the persons interested in the above come forth to you to 
surrender that interest, who can defend such a mischief or 
refuse such a sacrifice 1 I mean, therefore, to move for a 
committee to inquire into the abuses that obtain in the 
formation of the representation ; but as those abuses are 
not all, I mean to extend the inquiry to the abuses that 
obtain in the corruption of that representation, which are 
both contained in the words abuses of the Constitution. It 
will not be sufficient, depend upon it, that the House of 
Commons should be chosen by the people, — it is absolutely 
necessary that the House, after it is so chosen by the 
people, should not be bought by the Minister, otherwise 
the people would have only the trouble to elect men for the 
Minister afterwards to purchase; and therefore it is, I wish 
to impress on gentlemen, the necessity of attending to this 
part of the reform of Parliament, its internal reform, on 
which the purity of its conduct depends. 

In vain may the people send men to Parliament, fairly 
and popularly elected, if the Minister has a power of giving 


those men places and pensions, without number and with- 
out responsibility, or, as has been disclosed by one of our 
Ministers, — a power of charging the nation with half-a- 
million, or any other sum, however great, to purchase a 
majority in Parliament. Therefore do not imagine you have 
secured to the people an adequate, or any representation 
by giving them a fair and adequate right of choice, if you 
leave to the Ministers the uncontrolled and indefinite right 
of bribery. A Pension Bill, Responsibility Bill, are there- 
fore a necessary part of the great system which you are 
providing to form for your country. The whole must be 
reformed by a radical measure/' 

He concluded by moving in pursuance of the 
notice he had given : — 

" That a committee be appointed to inquire what abuses 
had taken place in the Constitution of the country, and in 
the administration of the Government thereof, and to re- 
port such temperate remedies as may appear most likely 
to redress the same." 

Mr. Corry moved as an amendment — 

i( That the House should, on that day three weeks, re- 
solve itself into a committee, to inquire into the state of 
the representation of the people in Parliament." 

This step, taken by a member of the Govern- 
ment, augured rather well for the liberties of the 
people ; and if it had been honestly followed up 
and acted on, would have tended to remove much 
of the evils complained of, and have silenced the 
violent party in the country, and satisfied the just 
wishes of all moderate men. 

On the appointed day (the 11th of February), 
Mr. Grattan again entered into a statement on 
the subject, and concluded by proposing three 
resolutions : 

"That the representation of the people is attended with 
great and heavy charges and payments, in consequence of 
elections, and returns of Members to serve in Parliament, 
and that said abuses ought to be abolished. 

" That of the 300 Members elected to serve in Par- 
liament, the counties and counties of cities and towns, 
together with the University, return 84 Members, and 

CHAP. V.] 



that the remaining 216 are returned by boroughs and 

" That the state of the representation of the people in 
Parliament requires amendment." 

These resolutions were opposed by the Chan- 
cellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Parnell), who 
moved two resolutions by way of amendment : 

"That under the present order of representation, the 
privileges of the people have been extended, and that the 
agriculture, the trade, and the commerce of the nation 
have been promoted. 

" That if any plan be produced which shall promise 
additional benefits without hazarding the advantages 
that we at present enjoy, it shall be considered to be en- 
titled to the most serious attention of the Committee." 

This was on the part of Government an evasion 
of the subject, and showed that they had no in- 
tention, much less any desire, to reform the 
glaring and acknowledged abuses that existed in 
the representation. 

Mr. Forbes objected to the amendment, as 
superseding the motion. Mr. Stewart (Lord 
Castlereagh) strongly supported the question of 
reform. The Secretary of State (Provost Hut- 
chinson) entered into a long detail respecting the 
constitution of Parliament, and declared, that 
the representation required improvement. Mr. 
Curran supported Mr. Grattan, and said, " Go- 
vernment had proposed strong measures, and 
they should be accompanied by lenient and 
popular ones." 

On a division there appeared for the amend- 
ment, 153 — against it, 71. 

This subject was renewed in another shape on 
the J 9th by Mr. Forbes, who moved, " That the 
returning officers should furnish a list of the 
number of electors in their respective boroughs, 
and of their respective qualifications." This 
motion, if carried, would have shown at once the 


glaring defects in the representation ; it was ac- 
cordingly opposed by Government, who were 
much condemned by Mr. Stewart (Lord Castle- 
reagh), for first granting a committee, and then 
refusing to enquire. He said that this proceeding 
had brought the public mind into a state of agi- 
tation, and that, if the people were allowed to 
ponder over the vices that existed in the repre- 
sentation, it was impossible to say what course 
they might adopt. The motion, however, was 
rejected by 137 to 48, and the committee did 

At the end of the session, on the 9th July, 
Mr. William Ponsonby being unable to attend, 
Mr. George Ponsonby, his brother, presented a 
bill, which was read a first time, and ordered to 
be printed, for consideration in the next session. 
It was opposed by Mr. Wesley (Duke of Wel- 
lington). This ended the question of Parlia- 
mentary reform, much to the dissatisfaction of the 
people, whose hopes had been first encouraged, 
and then disappointed. The rejection of this 
measure was made use of by the violent party at 
a subsequent period, as the pretext for enlisting 
under the banners of the United Irishmen, many 
well-meaning and peaceably-disposed individuals. 

It is natural to suppose that the state of foreign 
and domestic affairs during the four years preceding 
1793, had kept the people of both countries in a 
state of considerable excitement ; but the mea- 
sures pursued by the English on the subject of re- 
form, not only preceded those taken by the Irish, 
but far surpassed them. In the secret report of the 
disturbances, laid before the British Parliament in 
1797, by Mr. Dundas (Lord Melville), the Irish 
are unjustly represented as the leaders in the 
popular proceedings of those times ; but the 
dates of the several reports, particularly that of 



1794, disclose the fallacy ; and the attempt there 
made by the Minister, perhaps with a view to his 
objects as to Ireland, and to effect the long-desired 
purpose — the extinction of the Parliament. 

The British Corresponding and Reform societies 
were formed in March, 1791 ; the Irish United 
Society not till October; thus the Irish people 
were behind the English in point of time, though 
far beyond them in point of suffering. It 
must be observed also, that their grievances had 
a more solid foundation ; for although the repre- 
sentation of the people in the British House of 
Commons was unquestionably very imperfect, 
yet that of the Irish, as has been just stated, was 
infinitely worse. 

The Irish people were not a little affected by 
the declarations of the leaders of the English 
opposition,* and their approbation of the principles 
of the French revolution by Mr. Erskine, after- 
wards Lord Erskine, in September, 1790, by Mr. 
Sheridan, and above all, by Mr. Fox, who, in 
April, 1791, speaking of that event said, that he 
" considered it altogether as the most stupen- 
dous and glorious edifice of liberty which had 
been erected on the foundation of human inte- 
grity in any time or country. "f 

* It is worthy of remark, that the English were the only nation who 
addressed the French, and congratulated them on the Revolution. On 
the 14th of August a deputation of Englishmen appeared at the bar of 
the National Assembly at Paris, and congratulated them on the proceed- 
ings of the 10th of August; they held a festival to celebrate the victories 
of the French armies, and the toasts given were — "The Republic of 
France, founded on the rights of man ;" — " The Patriotic Societies of 
Great Britain and Ireland;" — "The abolition of hereditary titles and 
feudal distinctions ;" this last was proposed by an English gentleman, 
Sir Robert Smith; and both he and Lord Edward Fitzgerald (who un- 
fortunately happened to be in Paris at the time) declared that they re- 
nounced their titles. In consequence of this, Lord Edward was deprived 
of his commission in the British army. This was the commencement of 
his misfortunes; his marriage with the daughter of Egalite did not ter- 
minate them. 

f These words were spoken by Mr. Fox in the debate of April, 1791 



[CHAP. V. 

These opinions coming from such authority, 
fixed the attention, and roused the spirit of the 
Irish people, who knew and felt that the griev- 
ances the country complained of far exceeded 
any that England or Scotland laboured under. 

In the month of October, 1791, a society was 
formed at Belfast, denominated the United Irish- 
men. Their resolutions were short and simple ; 
they merely comprised Parliamentary reform, 
and Catholic emancipation. In November, of 
the same year, a similar society was formed in 
Dublin, and similar resolutions were adopted. 
The test of the association was, a pledge to use 
their ability to obtain an adequate reform, and 
as the means thereof to forward a community of 
rights for Irishmen of all religious persuasions. 
This was the commencement of that society 
whose ramifications subsequently extended so 
wide, and were turned to purposes very different 
from those which marked its origin, and which 
were perfectly legal and constitutional. Many 
respectable individuals were enrolled among its 

The leading members of the Irish opposition, 
however, being unwilling to join them, formed in 
December, 1792, an association, entitled, The 
Friends of the Constitution, Liberty and Peace. 
They met in Dublin — the Duke of Leinster in the 
chair, and passed an address and declaration, in 
which they protested against the corruption of 
Parliament, and called for an extension of privi- 
leges to the Roman Catholics. Their principles 
were, an hereditary monarchy, an assembly of 

on the war with Russia. They roused Mr. Burke, who got up to reply; 
but the noise and clamour was so great, that he was forced to give way. 
Mr. Burke complained afterwards of the treatment he experienced on 
that occasion from Mr. Fox's party, and the schism between these indi- 
viduals was much increased in consequence. Mr. Burke's reply was 
embittered by delay, and his hostility augmented. 



nobles emanating from the crown, and a body of 
representatives chosen by the people ; these they 
pronounced to be the integral, vital, and essential 
parts of the constitution. They resolved that the 
representative part of Legislature was not derived 
from the people by free and general elections ; 
that the permanent peace and welfare of Ireland 
could only be established by the abolition of all 
civil and religious distinctions, and by a radical 
reform in Parliament. The declaration was a 
promise to promote reform and emancipation, to 
resist innovation, and to recommend the forma- 
tion of similar associations. 

This society was similar to that formed in Lon- 
don in the spring of 1792, entitled "The Friends 
of the People," which consisted of many of the most 
active members of the English House of Commons, 
who were then in opposition ; and the object set 
forth in their declaration was a more equal repre- 
sentation of the people in Parliament. Mr. Grey,* 
Mr. Sheridan, and Lord Lauderdale were said to 
be the founders of it. 

Other associations emanated from those of the 
friends of the Constitution, liberty, and peace, and 
formed themselves in various parts of Ireland, 
corresponding with the chief members of the 
opposition, but they were ultimately superseded 
by that more active body — the United Irishmen. 

Thus the country was divided into various par- 
ties : — the Whig club in Dublin and the Whigs of 
the north; the Catholic Convention and Committee; 
the Protestant Convention at Dungannon ; the 
United Irishmen in Belfast and in Dublin ; and 
the associations of the " Friends of the Constitution." 
All these various bodies shook the island from cen- 
tre to circumference, and showed that some general 
measures of relief were indispensable. At the 

* Afterwards Lord Grey, in whose administration in 1831 the Reform 
Bill was carried. 



same time, sanctioned as some of them were by 
the names and support of the leading men of the 
country, the nobles and the aristocracy, they 
afforded a sure pledge to the Government that 
nothing illegal or violent would be attempted. 
The country now required constitutional govern- 
ors, — men of calm and reflecting minds, — attached 
to the people as well as to the Crown, and who 
would not use their imprudences or their follies 
as a pretext to deprive them of their liberties. 

But unfortunately for Ireland, her old friends 
were no more:— Pery was gone, — Burgh, Flood, 
and Daly were dead ; even Bushe had been dis- 
missed, and Langrishe, though well inclined, 
wanted weight sufficient to exercise authority or 
control. The governors of the country were des- 
titute of the necessary qualities for command, and 
had neither the arts that are best adapted to 
enforce obedience without an uplifted arm, or to 
win the affections of the people without a servile 
condescension. They lacked wisdom, patience, 
temper, and discretion; they were weak, hot, 
prejudiced, and violent. Clare, Agar, Carhamp- 
ton, Beresford, Foster, Carleton, Bellamont, whose 
names generally appeared at the foot of the pro- 
clamations, with Lord Westmoreland at the head, 
were wholly incapable of managing a people like 
the Irish : men whose principles would break the 
peace of a parish were unable to preserve that of 
a nation. 

The conduct pursued by Lord Clare had cer- 
tainly been the cause of many of the evils that 
approached. He had revived, at the Regency, the 
old jealousy in the old quarter, and which of all 
others was the most exciting, namely, the inde- 
pendency of the Irish Parliament. He increased 
that jealousy by a doctrine which was profligate 
in the extreme, namely, that as the British Par- 



liament had ceased to govern Ireland by law, the 
English cabinet should govern the Irish Parlia- 
ment by corruption ; and this he represented as 
the cause of Great Britain ; and by annexing the 
name of her Government to that vile bribery, and 
to that base doctrine, he acted more as the enemy 
of Ireland than the champion of Great Britain. 
Thence it followed, as a necessary consequence, 
that by these extremes he brought into activity 
bodies in opposition to him : he created the Whig- 
Club, — he created the Northern Whigs, — and, 
lastly, the United Irishmen. All these associations 
owed their origin to him as their common parent ; 
and in the papers which state these associations, 
are recited the items of Mr. Fitzgibbon's conduct, 
as the origin both of their birth and of their 

It cannot be said that, at this period (1793), 
either the principles or the doctrines of the French 
revolution had made any progress among the 
Roman Catholics of Ireland. Their clergy 
(always sincerely attached to their religion) were 
terrified at the excesses and cruelties perpetrated 
on the pastors of their church, and at the open 
profanation of religion displayed in France. Be- 
sides this, the Roman Catholics were never 
republicans; the Presbyterians and the Pro- 
testants of the north were more susceptible, both 
on account of the nature and sturdiness of their 
politics and their religion. 

The decree of the National Assembly of France, 
19th November, 1792, which was ordered to be 
printed in all the languages of Europe, and which 
stated that they would grant fraternity and assist- 
ance to all people who were willing to recover 
their freedom; and gave directions to their generals 
to defend and assist those who suffered in the 
cause of liberty, — had caught some, but very few 




of thelrish, — Wolfe Tone, Hamilton Rowan, Napper 
Tandy : scarcely any others were affected by it. 
The French Convention, too, were willing to with- 
draw it, and had directed their agent Monsieur 
Chauvelin, to disavow all hostile intentions on the 
part of France, and to state how averse they were 
to the idea of a war with England. 

The apprehensions of men, however, were not 
tranquillized when so dangerous a doctrine was 
propagated, — a doctrine so inconsistent with the 
peace, the security, and the faith of nations. But 
affairs were now on the brink of a rupture. 

In November of the same year, the Executive 
Council determined to open the river Scheld, the 
exclusive navigation of which had been secured to 
Holland by several treaties, guaranteed too by 
France, and by a treaty of alliance entered into in 
1788 between Great Britain and Holland, which 
bound them to assist each other in case the terri- 
tories of either were attacked. This was made 
the ground for war by Mr. Pitt. 

At last the concluding scene was acted. The 
King and royal family of France, who had been 
taken prisoners on the 3d of August, 1792, and 
confined in the Temple, were brought to trial. On 
the 21st January, 1793, the King was executed, 
366 voting for his death, 319 for his detention, — 
not one for his acquittal ! ! ! On the 28th Chau- 
velin was ordered to leave London ; and on the 1st 
of February war was declared by France against 
England ; an event that proved the death-blow to 
the hopes and the happiness of Ireland. 

The disturbances which had taken place in 
Ireland immediately prior to 1793 were confined 
almost entirely to the north. They were local in 
their nature, and could easily have been sup- 
pressed by the civil power if it had been properly 
directed. The Defenders were Roman Catholics. 

CHAP. V.] 



The name of the association denotes its origin : 
they assembled in order to protect themselves 
against the depredations and excesses of the 
Protestant party, called " Peep o'day boys," who 
broke open the houses of the Catholics, attacked 
their persons, and destroyed their property. The 
difficulty of obtaining justice against the aggres- 
sors, compelled the peasantry of one party to enter 
into protective combinations, which, however, 
soon exceeded all ordinary limits, objects, and 

The agitation of the Catholic question during 
the years 1790 and 1791, and the conduct of 
government, had excited the prejudices and pas- 
sions of the predominant party. The supineness, 
and perhaps indifference, of the magistrates had 
also increased the evil ; and if an opinion is to be 
formed from the resolutions commonly called the 
M Gosford Resolutions," that were adopted in 1796 
by Lord Gosford, and a meeting of magistrates, 
and which stated the cause of the disorders ; great 
blame was to be attached to the local authorities. 

In consequence of these disturbances, on the 
11th of February, 1793, the subject was brought 
before the House of Lords. Lord Clonmel stated 
that several of the disturbers of the peace were 
emissaries of the French. Lord Farnham com- 
plained that money had been collected at the 
Roman Catholic chapels, the application of which 
ought to be inquired into. Accordingly, a secret 
committee was appointed, consisting of the Chan- 
cellor and eight Lords. On the 7th of March 
they made their report, which stated, that the 
Defenders were Roman Catholics, who were im- 
pressed with the idea, that they could assist the 
Catholic cause. That they complained of hearth- 
money, tithes, county taxes, and high rents ; they 
appeared in Louth in April 1792 ; then spread to 
k 2 


Meath, Cavan, and Monaghan ; and (as if with a 
view to connect the Catholic Committee with 
these disturbances) they stated that money was 
collected at Catholic chapels by order of the sub- 
committee, who had also directed inquiries to be 
made respecting the offences with which the 
Defenders were charged, and had employed coun- 
sel to act for them at the assizes. The report 
complained of the inactivity of the magistrates, 
and the great circulation of seditious papers and 
pamphlets in the north, tending to defame the 
Government and Parliament. It stated that a 
body of men had associated themselves in Dublin 
under the title of " First National Battalion," and 
that their uniform was copied from the French — 
green turned up with white. On their buttons 
was a harp, surmounted by a cap of liberty without 
the crown. That bodies of men in the north of 
Ireland were trained to the use of arms, and pur- 
chases were made of arms and ammunition. The 
report concluded by declaring that it was incom- 
patible with the safety of the kingdom, or with 
public tranquillity, to permit armed bodies of men 
to assemble without any legal authority, or to 
permit a self-created representative body to exist, 
collecting money and levying s-ubscriptions. 

This report was clearly directed against the 
Volunteers and the Roman Catholics ; though the 
latter were not directly charged as being impli- 
cated, yet they were mentioned in the report in 
such a manner that they naturally supposed the 
intention of the Lords was to implicate them. 
Lord Portarlington, however, who was a member 
of the Committee, declared that there was no 
proof that they had any connexion whatever with 
the disturbances ; and certainly, if any opinion is 
to be formed from the measures they took, and 
the declarations they made, the very reverse of 



connexion with Defenderism was the fact ; for in 
July 1792, the Catholic Committee had drawn up 
an address to their brethren of the north, calling 
upon them no longer to assemble in armed bodies, 
but to trust to the exertion of their friends, and 
give up all tumultuous meetings.* Again in 

* At a Meeting of the sub-Committee of the Catholics of Ireland, 
January 2, 1793, Denis Thomas O'Brien, Esq., in the Chair. 

The following address to the Catholics of Ireland was agreed to, and 
ordered to be published : — 

The sub-committee appointed by the general committee of the Ca- 
tholics of Ireland, to transact such business as may be necessary during 
the adjournment of the latter, feel it their indispensable duty to warn 
the body at large, against any attempts of pretended friends or declared 
enemies to mislead them, to drive them into a violence derogatory to 
their unspotted character of loyalty and obedience to the laws, or sub- 
versive of the unanimity which ought to subsist amongst every descrip- 
tion of Irishmen. 


The Committee are grieved to hear of the success of designing men, 
in agitating the minds of the lower order of their persuasion in a part of 
this country, and filling them with apprehensions of danger from their 
Protestant brethren, a circumstance which has prompted these unhappy 
men to arm and stand on their defence. They would wish io impress 
upon their mind, in indelible characters, that it is the most ardent desire, 
and the object nearest the heart of every individual in the general and 
sub-committees, that all animosity between Protestants and Catholics 
should cease, and lie buried in the graves of their ancestors : that inha- 
biting one common country, and adoring the same God, the united chari- 
ties of religion and country may melt us down as one people, and for 
ever establish a reciprocity of interests and a community of rights. 

The Committee trust that the Catholics of Ireland never will, nor ever 
can forget their obligations to their Protestant brethren, who have stood 
forward as their advocates and protectors. Should any of their persua- 
sion have well-grounded cause to fear for their lives or liberties, it is 
their duty to state it, and solicit the protection of Government. Should 
they request the sub-committee to state their situation, the sub-commit- 
tees will not be wanting. But they earnestly recommend to the Catho- 
lics in general, the continuation of that dutiful and exemplary conduct, 
which, under circumstances of unprecedented hardship, has for a cen- 
tury made them the admiration of all, who can do justice to and feel for 
the adversities and virtues of mankind. The world will now see their 
conduct, and unquestionably their King and country will reward it : for 
he is a just and gracious King, and Protestants must at least see, that 
nothing but union at home — a union arising from equal law, and equal 
liberty, can guard the island from domestic or foreign foes. In this 
sanguine and well-founded hope, the Committee conjure their Catholic 
brethren to rest upon their arms, the only arms the hostility of the law 
cannot take away, the arms of reason and justice; and patiently wait 
the decision of their fate, — the fate of three millions of aggrieved and 
loyal subjects. Signed by order, John Sweetman, Sec. 


January, 1793, they had passed resolutions highly 
to their credit, and lastly in April of the same 
year, they published a vindication of their conduct, 
in reply to the imputations charged against them, 
as being connected with the Defenders, or levying 
money for improper purposes. They stated that 
the expenses of the Catholic Convention had been 
very great ; (one of the secretaries, Mr. Burke, had 
got upwards of 2,000/. andMr.Tone, the other secre- 
tary, shortly after received 1,500/. for his services ;) 
so far they cleared themselves of the charge. 

Government now proceeded against the Volun- 
teers, and effected the dispersion of the few who 
remained. In consequence of the imprudence of 
some of the corps, as alluded to in Mr. Grattan's 
letter,* and also in the report of the Lords, Go- 
vernment had issued a proclamation in December 
1792, directing them to abstain from assembling. 
This proclamation was taken into consideration 
by the House of Commons in January 1793, 
when it was proposed that an address of thanks 
be presented to the Lord-lieutenant for the pro- 
clamation which he had issued, and for the vigi- 
lance and attention which he had manifested to 
preserve the public tranquillity ; that they ap- 
plauded his wisdom in separating those who so 
laudably associated for the purpose of defending 
their country from foreign invasion, as well as to 
preserve domestic tranquillity, from those whose 
declared objects are tumult, disaffection, and se- 
dition, and to assure him that they would concur 
in such measures as would carry the proclamation 
into effect." 

Mr. Secretary Hobart read a summons from 
the Goldsmiths' corps ; also the address from the 
Society of United Irishmen to the Volunteers of 
Ireland, and the resolutions entered into at a 

* Ante, page 74. 



meeting of delegates from several of the Dublin 
Volunteer corps. He said that, from those resolu- 
tions, those corps came within the description and 
meaning of the proclamation. Information had 
been received that the Goldsmiths' corps intended 
to parade, and appear in arms. Directions were 
given to a magistrate to caution them against 
it, but there was no intention to call out the 
military in aid of the magistrate, except in case of 
necessity. He accounted for the proclamation 
not having been laid earlier before Parliament, 
and said it was a matter of great satisfaction to 
find that the conduct of the administration, in this 
business, had met with the approbation of the 
other side of the house. 

Mr. Grattan spoke for the Volunteers as fol- 
lows : — 

" I approve of the proclamation, as much as I condemn 
the use which the minister now attempts to make of it. The 
proclamation arraigned a certain body of men, whom it 
describes to be an association assuming devices and em- 
blems of disaffection. The minister applies that to the 
Volunteers of the city and the county, under that colour 
proposes to disperse them ; and in order to justify that 
project, he produces a formal charge. That charge is con- 
fined to two heads : first, a summons purporting to be 
that of the corps of Goldsmiths, reciting that the delegates 
of the corps were to assemble to celebrate the retreat of 
the Duke of Brunswick, and the French victory in the 
Low Countries, and inviting the Goldsmiths' corps to at- 
tend. 1 do not ask how far it was perfectly discreet 
to celebrate such an event, particularly if we consider the 
consequences to which such an event might possibly 
lead ; but I ask, was it a ground for dismissing the Volun- 
teers ? Do ministers mean to say, that they will disperse 
all the Volunteers of Ireland who celebrate theFrench 
victories in Brabant ? 

" He has read a long address from a society called the 
United Irishmen, inviting the people of Ireland to as- 
semble in a national convention, and containing an abun- 
dance of other matter, and he then produces a succession 


of resolutions from some of the corps of Dublin, one 
of which resolutions returns thanks to the society of 
United Irishmen. Without giving any kind of approba- 
tion to the matter of that address, I must say, that I think 
a minister would be highly indiscreet and presumptuous 
who should say, that the Volunteers had by those thanks 
brought themselves within the description of the proclama- 
tion, or that they were guilty of assuming emblems and 
devices of disaffection, as little should I think him justi- 
fied in dispersing them merely on account of those 

" I therefore desire, in giving my approbation to the 
proclamation, to be distinctly understood. I approve 
of it, because it did propose to disperse the National 
Guard, and because it did not propose to disperse the 

It was on this occasion that Lord Edward Fitz- 
gerald rose, and in a very vehement tone, exclaim- 
ed, " I give my hearty disapprobation to that ad- 
dress ; for I do think the Lord-lieutenant and the 
majority of this House the worst subjects His 
Majesty has." This excited great confusion ; the 
House was cleared ; he was called on to explain 
himself. His explanation was held unsatisfactory 
and insufficient. He was ordered to attend at 
the bar the ensuing day, when an explanation 
rather more ample was at length accepted. 

Government proceeded now to adopt active 
measures. They proposed an Arms and Gun- 
powder Bill,* to prevent individuals from import- 
ing arms or gunpowder without license, or re- 
move them from one part of the kingdom to 
another, or keep more than four pounds of powder 
or any cannon or ordinance without a licence 
from the Lord-lieutenant. It enabled any justice 
of the peace to enter and search any house or 
person on suspicion that arms or gunpowder were 

* Mr. Moore, in the Life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, stated that Mr. 
Grattan faintly (if at all) opposed this bill. On the contrary, Mr. Grat- 
tan not only opposed it, but gave notice of a motion to prevent its 


kept there. This bill was the commencement 
of that code of laws which has lasted to the pre- 
sent day, and which is not to be found upon the 
statute-book of England or of any other country. 
By means of this law, and the proclamation 
already alluded to, Government disarmed and 
suppressed the Volunteers ; they sent the mili- 
tary to seize the field-pieces of several corps 
within three days after the bill had received the 
Royal Assent ; they seized the artillery of the 
Liberty corps ; they made a private arrangement 
by which they got possession of that belonging to 
the Merchants' corps ; they induced the Lawyers' 
corps to give up possession of theirs, first making 
a public procession before they were surren- 
dered. In the north, however, some of the 
corps are said to have been less compliant, 
and buried their cannon rather than surrender 

The House of Lords showed no unwillingness 
to assist the objects of Government ; and on the 
1st of March the society of United Irishmen, 
having published some remarks on the Committee 
of the House of Lords, the latter summoned 
before them the individuals whose names ap- 
peared to the document, — the Hon. Simon But- 
ler, (who had become remarkable for his opinion 
given in favour of holding the Catholic conven- 
tion,) and Oliver Bond. They were brought to the 
bar ; and for an alleged breach of privilege, (as 
stated in the resolution,) in questioning the autho- 
rity of the high court of Parliament, and tending 
thereby to a breach of the peace, they were fined 

* The police seized one of the Dublin Rangers as he was marching 
with his corps. This was resented by his comrade, who struck the 
inspector with his firelock. Immediately a party of cavalry and infantry 
were dispatched from the Castle ; they followed the Volunteers ; but by 
the prudence and forbearance of the latter, the collision was avoided. 
The Government then seized all the fire-arms that could be found. 



500/. each, and sent to prison, where they re- 
mained for a period of six months. This severe 
proceeding, however, only served to exasperate 
the people ; and on their liberation from prison, 
on the 16th of August, they were hailed by the 
addresses of their fellow-citizens. 

Another individual, Doctor Reynolds, whom 
the Committee examined, and who refused to 
answer some questions which had been proposed 
to him, was also committed to gaol for a breach 
of privilege. 

In the north, the disturbances were not con- 
fined to the proceedings of the Defenders. In 
the first week of March, a party of the 17th Dra- 
goons came into Belfast with drawn sabres, and 
cut down the signs of Mirabeau, Dumourier, 
Franklin, and Washington ; insulted and wounded 
several of the inhabitants, and broke the windows 
of their houses. One man, who was a chief suf- 
ferer, shewed a sturdy spirit on the occasion ; 
and when the riot was over, put up a new sign, 
with the words underneath, " M'Cabe, an Irish 

Government now brought in a bill to raise 
16,000 militia; they increased the regular army 
from 12,000 to 17,000 men ; and as a counter- 
poise to their measures of concession, and to 
nullify, as it were, their liberality to the Catholics, 
they introduced the Convention Act, — the climax 
of all their strong measures, and one that was 
evidently intended to put a stop to all popular 
exertions throughout Ireland. It prohibited the 
election or appointment of conventions or other 
lawful assembles, under 'pretence of preparing pe- 
titions to the King or Parliament. Its real object 
was to prevent the Reform, and stigmatize the 
Catholic Convention. The pretences for pass- 
ing it were the Defenders, the United Irishmen, 



and a supposed Convention that was to assemble 
in Athlone in favour of Reform. The latter, how- 
ever, had been abandoned, and the bill would 
have no operation upon the two others. It ori- 
ginated in the Upper House, and was brought 
in by Lord Clare on the 8th of July. It passed 
there in the short space of four days, opposed 
only by three Lords — Leinster, Charlemont, and 
Arran — and on the 13th it was sent to the 
Commons. The Opposition in vain opposed the 
measure — Ponsonby, Curran, Hardy, Duquery, 
Doyle, and Brown. 

Mr. Grattan characterized the bill as it de- 
served ; he pronounced it to be an " anti-whig and 
ant i- constitutional measure, and the boldest step that 
ever yet was made to introduce a military government. 
If this bill had been the law of the land, four 
great events could never have taken place — the 
independency of the Irish Parliament ; the eman- 
cipation of the Irish Catholics ; the revolution 
in Great Britain ; and the great event that flowed 
from it — the succession of the Hanoverian fa- 
mily." He moved that the bill be read on the 
29th of September; the motion was lost by 27 
to 128. Major Wesley (Duke of Wellington) 
was teller for the bill. Mr. Grattan strove to 
limit its duration to one year. He said, that 
as he had been against the excesses of some 
of the people, which shook the principles of Go- 
vernment, so now he was against excess on the 
other side, which shook the principles of liberty. 
He considered the bill to be a compound of dis- 
like to the people in general, and the Catholics in 
particular. This effort proved fruitless, and the 
bill passed without any amendment.* 

* In 1812 this Act was called into operation against the Roman 
Catholics, and threw the whole country into law, confusion, and discon- 

*K 6 


One of the chief measures of the session was 
the bill which limited the pension list to 80,000/. 
a-year.* The King surrendered his power over the 
hereditary revenue of Ireland, and accepted a fixed 
sum for his civil list, which was not to exceed 
225,000/., and no pension greater than 1,200/. 
a-year was to be granted to any but the Royal 
family. Mr. Forbes succeeded also in his Place 
and Pension Bill, which, though altered from 
the original form, at length was adopted. It 
excluded from Parliament all individuals who 
held offices of profit under the Crown, and on 
acceptance thereof subjected them to re-election : 
but he strove ineffectually to disqualify persons 
employed in the revenue. 

The merit of carrying this measure belonged to 
the exertions and integrity of Mr. Forbes. The 
question had been much agitated of old in Ire- 
land ; it had been brought forward prior even to 
the accession of George III., and was long the 
subject of Doctor Lucas's expostulations and 
harangues ; then of Mr. Flood's ardent eloquence 
and strenuous labours ; and lastly, of Mr. For- 
bes's calm and steady perseverance ; — but it 
took near half a century to carry ; so tedious are 
the contests, and so hard-earned are the victories 
obtained by the people ! 

The other important measures that passed were 
the Barren Land Bill of Mr. Grattan, which 
exempted from tithe for seven years all lands 

* When Mr. Banks, in 1812, proposed, in the Imperial Parliament, 
his bill for retrenchment, he attacked this measure by proposing to reduce 
the Irish Pension List to 40,000/., and on a division he was defeated 
only by two votes, — those of Mr. Grattan and Mr. George Ponsonby. 
They contended that a contract had been made with the Crown, and 
300,000/. given to get the Pension List fixed at 80,000/. a-year, and 
having made the agreement, they conceived it should be kept. In this 
opinion they were certainly right ; for it is an unwise thing to set the 
example to kings of popular infidelity ; it is one that will surely be 
turned against the people. 

CHAP. V.] 



newly reclaimed, and the bill permitting the 
trade of Ireland with the East Indies under cer- 
tain regulations.* These and the Catholic Bill 
were the beneficial results of this very important 
session, which terminated on the 26th of July.j~ 

* A proviso was introduced into the bill, directing that if by any 
arrangement with the East India Company the trade was opened to 
Great Britain, it should only be carried on by Ireland, subject to the 
duties that were to be paid in England. On this occasion Mr. Forbes 
distinguished himself by a most able and luminous speech. 

f This list shows the influence of the Crown in Parliament, and the 
necessity of Mr. Forbes's bill : — 

In the Militury Department. 
Robert Wynne — Clerk of Ordnance Deliveries. 
R. Archdall — Secretary to Ordnance. 
Hon. John Stratford — Agent for regiments abroad. 
Thomas Burgh — Treasurer of the Ordnance. 
E. Cooke — Secretary to the Military department. 
Eyre Coote — Lieut. Col. of Foot. 

Francis Cradock — Quarter-Master Gen. and a Lieut. Col. of Foot. 
Rt. Hon. J. Curie — Commissioner of the Barracks. 
Right Hon. H. T. Clements — Constable of Dublin Castle and agent for 
military pensions. 

R. H. R. Cuningham — Commander-in-Chief, a General, a Colonel of 

Dragoons, and Governor of Kinsale fort. 
Peter Daly — Governor of the garrison of Galway. 
Hon. Robert Taylor — Lieut.-Col. Dragoons. 
John Doyle — a Lieut.-Col. Commandant. 
Charles Eustace — a Major-Gen. and Deputy Quarter Master. 
Lord Charles Fitzgerald — Muster Master General. 
Stephen Freemantle — a Lieut.-Col. and Deputy Adjutant General. 
Wm. Hancock — Commissioner of Barracks. 
John Hely Hutchinson, jun. — a Lieut.-Col. 
Hon. Geo. Jocelyn — a Commissioner of Barracks. 
Hon. John Knox — a Lieut.-Col. and Major of Foot. 
Robert Langrishe — Superintendant of Barracks. 
Richard Magenis — Captain of Invalids. 
Eyre Massey — a Lieut.-Gen., and Colonel of Foot. 
John Moore, jun. — Secretary to the Master of the Ordnance. 
Arthur Ormsby — Lieut.-Col. of Dragoons. 
Hon. Thomas Pakenham — Surveyor of the Ordnance. 
Hon. Henry Pomeroy — a Commissioner of Barracks. 
George Sandford — Barrack-master of Dublin. 
Hon. Henry Skeffington — Governor of the Garrison of Cork. 
Hon. William John Skeffington— Constable of Dublin Castle. 
Nicholas Loftus Tottenham — a Captain on half-pay. 
John Ormsby Vandeleur — a Major of Dragoons. 
Thomas P. Vandeleur — a Major of Dragoon Guards. 
Hon. J. Butler Wandesford — a Captain of Dragoons. 
Hon. Arthur Wesley — a Lieut.-Col. cf Foot. 



[chap. V. 

In the Law Department. 
Wm. Burton — Custos Rotulorum of the county of Galway. 
Humphrey Butler — Clerk of the Pipe. 
James Chatterton — Second King's Serjeant. 
Charles Henry Coote— a Commissioner of Accounts. 
Henry Cope — Accountant-General of Chancery. 
Maurice Coppinger — a Commissioner of Appeals. 
Robert Day — Chairman of Kilmainham Sessions, 
Rt. Hon. James Fitzgerald — Prime Sergeant. 
Alexander Hamilton — Cursitor in Chancery. 
Rt. Hon, Viscount Jocelyn — Joint Auditor General. 
John Macartney — Deputy King's Remembrancer. 
Richard Nevill — a Commissioner of Accounts. 
Rt. Hon. Sir Lucius O'Brien — Clerk of the Crown, and Hanaper. 
Rt. Hon. George Ogle — Register of Deeds. 
John Reilly — a Commissioner of Accounts. 
Edmond Stanley — Third King's Serjeant. 
Edmund Tighe — Comptroller of the Pipe. 
John Toler — Solicitor-General. 
Rt. Hon. Arthur Wolfe — Attorney-General. 

In the Revenue Department. 
Hon. R. Annesley — a Commissioner of the Revenue. 
Samuel Hayes — a Commissioner of Stamps. 
Jonah Barrington — Clerk of the Ship Entries. 
Rt. Hon. John Beresford — First Commissioner of the Revenue, &c. 
John C. Beresford — Register General of Tobacco. 
Marcus Beresford — First Taster of Wines, &c. 
Theophilus Blakeney — Collector of Dublin Excise. 
James Blaquiere — a Surveyor General. 
Rt. Hon. Sir John Blaquiere — Alnager of Ireland. 
Rt. Hon. Sir H. Cavendish— a Commissioner of Treasury. 
Rt. Hon. W. B. Conyngham — Commissioner of Treasury. 
Isaac Corry — a Commissioner of the Revenue. 
Hon. Abraham Creighton — Register of Forfeitures. 
Edward Fitzgerald — a Commissioner of Stamps. 
Sir H. Hill, Bt, — Collector of Derry and Coleraine. 
Peter Holmes — a Commissioner of Stamps. 
Richard T. Herbert — a Commissioner of Stamps. 
Hugh Howard — Treasurer of the Post-office. 
Robert Johnson — Counsel to the Revenue. 
Rt. Hon. Theophilus Jones — Collector of Dublin Port. 
Francis Leigh — Collector of Wexford. 
Hon. John Loftus Loftus — Cashier of the Exchequer. 
Rt. Hon. Sir H. Langrishe — a Commissioner of Revenue. 
Rt. Hon. J. M. Mason — a Commissioner of Revenue. 
William Montgomery — Inspector General of Excise. 
Stephen Moore — Accountant General. 
Rt. Hon. Sir J. Parnell, Bt. — Chancellor of Exchequer. 
Wm. Pennefather — Collector of Athlone. 
George Rawson — a Commissioner of Stamps. 
Hon. Rt. Rochfort — Surveyor of the King's Lands. 
Robt. Ross — a Commissioner of the Revenue. 
Hon. Chichester Skeffington — Collector of Belfast. 
John Staples — Examinator of Customs. 

chap, v.] 


Henry Stewart — Accountant General of Post-office. 
Charles Tottenham — Collector of Ross. 
John Tydd — Paymaster of Corn Premiums. 
John Wolfe — a Commissioner of the Revenue. 
Owen Wynne — Collector, Sligo. 
Mount. Longford — Weighmaster, Cork. 

State and Miscellaneous Officers. 
Sylvester Douglas — Secretary to his Excellency. 
Patrick Duigenan — Judge of the Prerogative Court. 
Warden Flood — Judge of the Admiralty. 
S. Hamilton — Secretary for the Civil Department. 
Rt. Hon. J. Hely Hutchinson — Secretary of State. 
Wm. Mecke — Steward of the Household. 
Sir Boyle Roche — Gentleman Usher. 
Sir Rich. St. George — Register of the Order of St. Patrick. 
Nath. Warren — First Commissioner of the Police. 

Many of the above had offices in several departments. 

Pensioners, who are not placemen. 

Ponsonby Tottenham .... £300 

Sir William Godfrey • 300 

Sir John Stewart Hamilton . . . 300 

Hon. John Massey .... 400 

Sir Richard Johnston .... 800 

Thomas Nesbit ..... 500 

Sir James May ..... 300 


In the Military department ... 36 
In the Law department . . . .19 

In the Revenue department ... 38 

State and miscellaneous .... 9 

Pensioners ..... 7 

Placemen and pensioners . . 109 



Irish Parliament meets, January 1794 — Mr. Grattan supports the war 
against France — Sir L. Parsons's motion opposed by Mr. Grattan — 
His reasons — Mr. Ponsonby — Reform Bill — Mr. Grattan's speech in 
favour of Bill — Rejected — Parliament prorogued — Death of Richard 
Burke — Edmund Burke's advice to the Catholics — His letter to Mr. 
Grattan — Proceedings of United Irishmen and Defenders — Mr. 
Hamilton Rowan — Mr. Tone — Mr. Jackson — Conduct of Govern- 
ment — Mr. Grattan applied to, to form part of new administration and 
refuses — Letter of Lord Fitzwilliam— Goes to England — Interview 
with the Duke of Portland — Dinner with Mr. Pitt — Denis Daly — 
W. G. Hamilton and Serjeant Adair's opinion of Mr. Pitt — His 
interview with Mr. Grattan — He agrees to grant the Catholic question 
— Letters of Mr. Grattan and Lord Fitzwilliam — Accepts office of 
Lord -lieutenant— Mr. Grattan's interview with the Duke of Portland 
— Jobs complained of — Breach of faith — King's levee — Conduct of 
Mr. Pitt. 

The session of 1794 opened on the 2 1 st of January, 
with a congratulation from the Throne, on the 
successes abroad,* and the suppression of dis- 
turbance at home. This was accompanied by a 
declaration, that the King had full reliance on 
the loyalty and attachment of the Irish in sup- 
porting him against the unjust aggressions of 
France. On this occasion, Mr. Grattan adopted 
a line of conduct most likely to prove advan- 
tageous to Ireland, but which was not wholly ap- 
proved' of by some of the opposition, who were 
not so decided in their opinions as to the extent 

* On the 8th of March 1793, the Duke of Saxe Coburg de- 
feated the French, relieved Maestricht, and drove them beyond Aix-la- 
Chapelle. On the 17th Clairfait defeated Dumourier at Neerwinden, 
which decided for this year the fate of the Low Countries; and on the 
23rd of May the allies and the Duke of York attacked the French 
camp at Famars, killed their general, and defeated their army. They 
then invested Valenciennes, which on the 26th of July surrendered to 
the Duke of York. 



that Ireland should go in the war against France. 
Mr. Grattan took a different view of the question 
from some of his friends, as he did at a subse- 
quent period in 1815, and thus expressed him- 

"With respect to the principle of conduct which should 
always actuate Ireland, I have ever had, and shall ever 
continue to have but one opinion, — that Ireland should 
improve her Constitution, correct its abuses, and assimi- 
late it as nearly as possible to that of Great Britain ; that 
whenever Administration should attempt to act uncon- 
stitutionally ; but above all, whenever they should tamper 
with the independence of Parliament, they ought to be 
checked by all the means that the Constitution justifies. 
But that these measures, and this general plan of conduct 
should be pursued by Ireland with a fixed, steady, and 
unalterable resolution to stand or fall with Great Britain. 
Whenever Great Britain, therefore, should be clearly in- 
volved in war, it is my idea that Ireland should grant her 
a decided and unequivocal support, except that war 
should be carried on against her own liberty." 

On the 5th of January, Sir Lawrence Parsons 
moved that copies of the conventions and treaties 
with the different powers relative to the war, 
should be laid before the House. His motion was 
supported by Serjeant Duquery, Doctor Browne, 
Messrs. Tighe, Curran, Egan, and Stewart (Lord 
Castlereagh). Mr. Grattan opposed this motion, 
conceiving it tantamount to telling France that 
Ireland had not made up her mind as to the 
war, and inducing her to intrigue with the people, 
and make a descent upon the country. Mr. 
Grattan added, that on the subject of the war, 
Mr. Curran's sentiments coincided with his own. 
The motion was rejected by 128 to 9.* 

The Bill of Reform that had been proposed by 
Mr.Wm. Ponsonby, in the last session, was read a 
first time on the 4th of March. It added thirty- 

* Colonel Arthur Wesley (Duke of Wellington) was one of the 
tellers on this division. 



MR. ponsonby's reform bill. [chap. VI. 

four Members to the representation, and enlarged 
the boroughs to an area of twenty-four miles in 
circumference, thereby taking them from the aris- 
tocracy, and opening them to the people. Un- 
fortunately, however, this useful and necessary 
measure was not destined to pass. Arguments 
against it were adduced from the disturbed state 
of affairs abroad, and from the danger of giving 
more power to the people. Accordingly, the 
Bill was opposed by Sir Hercules Langrishe, who 
moved that it be read a second time on the 1st 
of August. The amendment was supported by 
Mr. (afterwards Sir Jonah) Barrington, Mr. Fox 
(afterwards Judge Fox), and Sir John Parnell, 
Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was opposed 
by Curran, Jephson, Tighe, Browne, Parsons, 
Ponsonby, and Conolly. Mr. Grattan strongly 
supported the bill. He said, that freeholders, 
leaseholders, and all trading interests, were now 
only spectators of the parliamentary Constitution, 
but under this bill they would become parties ; at 
present they returned only one-fifth of the House, 
but by the bill* they would have the entire return, 

* Each county was to return three instead of two knights of the 
shire; cities of Dublin and Cork to return three members each. 

Districts of cities and borough towns to be enlarged to a radius of 
four miles, or a circle of about twenty-four miles in circumference. 

£10 freeholders within such district of any city, town or borough to 
have a vote, provided they held their freeholds for one year, and regis- 
tered six months previous to election. 

No freeman of any corporation elected such after passing this Act to 
have a right to vote unless seised of a freehold.of 5l. yearly value, on 
which he or his family shall have resided, for one year previous to 
election; this not to extend to those who are "freemen or have a right to 
be so previous to the Act. 

Every person who has served 'five years at any trade within the dis- 
tricts shall have a right to vote. 

Member before he takes his seat in Parliament shall declare on oath 
that it has not been procured by bribery of any kind. 

Act not to extend to cities of Waterford, Kilkenny, Limerick and 
Londonderry, they shall retain their rights as usual. 

This was a much wiser plan of Reform than that adopted in England 
in 1831 by Lord Grey and Lord John Russell, which was so clogged by 
forms of registry, payment of rates and taxes, and tenancies at will, that 
the beneficial result of the measure was in a great degree frustrated. 



and become proprietors. His speech was re- 
markable for its comments on the British Consti- 
tution, on the proceedings in France, and the 
danger of suffering popular abuses to accumulate 
to such a height as they had in Ireland ; but he 
very wisely expressed his disapprobation of the 
plan of personal representation, and the extra- 
vagancies which some of the popular societies in 
Ireland had indulged in, and which he cautioned 
the people to beware of. 

" My right honourable friend* says, Why agitate the 
people now 1 We have not created ; we have found the 
agitation of this subject, and therefore the question now 
is, not whether we shall agitate or abandon this subject ; 
and sure I am that we should agitate the people much 
more by renouncing than by pursuing their great object — 
a more equal representation of the people. We should 
then leave them at large on this subject to their own 
despair, or to those desperate suggestions which every 
seditious bungler may propose, while the abuses of your 
representation, abandoned to such hands, make every 
quack a doctor, and every fool a philosopher. Sir, it is 
the excellence of our constitution, that it contains within 
itself the seeds of its own reformation, and to this ex- 
cellence I attribute its duration. Other countries have 
preserved abuses until they accumulated, and were finally 
levelled but by the establishment themselves, by the 
deluge of anarchy, instead of being removed by reforma- 
tion. * * * * 

" ' But,' says the right honourable baronet, ' France ! 
take warning from France.' If France be a lesson, take 
the whole of that lesson ; if her frantic convention is 
to be a monitress against the vices of a republic, let the 
causes which produced that convention be an admonition 
against the abuses of monarchy. France would reform 
nothing, until abuses accumulated, and government was 
swept away in a deluge — until an armed force redressed 
the State, and then, as will generally be the case, united 
on becoming the Government. It was not a progress from 
reformation to innovation, but from one modification of a 
military government, that is, of one anarchy to another. 
* Sir Hercules Langrishe. 
L 2 



In principle, therefore, the case of France does not apply ; 
in policy, still less ; for sure I am that if there is an 
attempt to introduce the rebellious traces of a republic into 
these countries, the best precaution is to discountenance them 
by the sober attractions of a limited monarchy, and the worst 
precaution is, to preserve all the abuses of the latter, to 
pre-engage men against the vices of the former. # # 

"Liberty was not best defended as the Commons became 
an aristocratic power, but as aristocratic wealth and 
feudal principality were alienated, melted, and diffused 
among the Commons : not as the Commons ceased to be 
Commons, but as great men became Commons by aliena- 
tion, and small men became such by commerce ; as the 
Commons grew in wealth, the better to combat that 
aristocratic influence, and not as they themselves became 
a part of that influence, and ceased to be Commons. To 
the aristocratic power which the patron of abuse would 
set up as the bulwark of freedom, must we attribute the 
fall of freedom and the catastrophe of kings. To this 
must we attribute the Barons' war and five depositions, 
and to the diminution of that power are we to attribute the 
Bill of Rights and the Revolution, both carried in the 
Commons against the alterations and interpolations at- 
tempted by this aristocratical interposition and influence. 
It is true, though the power of the baron is gone, the 
influence of the borough patron remains ; and therefore, 
though there is no civil war, there will continue to be 
faction. For wherever the powers of the constitution 
fall into the hands of an oligarchy, the Crown and the 
people must alternately capitulate ; the one for his free- 
dom, the other for his prerogative ; and if I were to come 
to any general conclusion on this part of the subject, 
it would be, that the disturbance of government has been 
the effect of this prevalence of oligarchy, and the freedom 
of the people the effect of its decline. Worse even 
than the abuses so defended, is a plan I have seen for 
their reformation — personal or individual representation. 

" The principle of such a plan is a complete, avowed , 
and unqualified departure from the vital and fundamental 
article of the British constitution in practice and in 
theory ; and I must say, such an outset requires no small 
degree of mischievous and senseless temerity. # # 

" Such we have seen in France on a similar experiment. 
There were two models for those who undertook to reform 



the Legislature — the principles of the British constitu- 
tion, with all its prosperity ; the confusions of the French, 
with all its massacres : deliberately have the authors 
of the plan of personal representation preferred the lat- 
ter ! * Their plan at another time had been only evidence 
of utter incapacity; at this and with the circumstance of 
its most active circulation, it is a proof of the worst 
intentions : their plan is an elementary French constitu- 
tion ; as such I would resist it ; as such, as long as there 
is spirit or common sense in the kingdom, we will all and 
for ever resist it ; but though the perpetration of the 
design you may defy, the mischief of the attempt you 
must acknowledge. It has thrown back for the present 
the chance of any rational improvement in the representa- 
tion of the people, and has betrayed a good reform to the 
hopes of a shabby insurrection. There are two characters 
equally enemies to the reform of Parliament and equally 
enemies to the government — the leveller of the constitu- 
tion, and the friend of its abuses : they take different 
roads to arrive at the same end ; the levellers propose 
to subvert the King and parliamentary constitution by 
a rank and unqualified democracy ; the friends of its 
abuses propose to support the King and level the Parlia- 
ment, and in the end to overset both by a rank and 
avowed corruption. They are both incendiaries; the one 
would destroy government to pay his court to liberty, the 
other would destroy liberty to pay his court to govern- 
ment ; but the liberty of the one would be confusion, and 
the government of the other would be pollution. Thus 
these opposite and bad characters would meet at last on 
the ground of their common mischiefs — the ruins of the 
best regulations that ever distinguished human wisdom — 
those that limit the power of the Crown, and those that 
restrain the impetuosity of the people. * * 

" See how the constitution, by borough, and not repre- 
sentation, worked previous to the Revolution : it scarcely 
worked at all. Of the last century, near eighty-five years, 
at different intervals, passed without a Parliament. From 
1585 to 1612, that is, twenty-seven years, no Parliament; 
from 1615 to 1634, nineteen years, no Parliament; from 
1648 to 1661, thirteen years, no Parliament ; from 1666 
to 1692, that is, twenty-six, no Parliament. Before the 
Revolution, it thus appears, that with the rights and the 

* This was in allusion to the plans of some of the United Irishmen. 



name, Ireland had not the possession of a parliamentary- 
constitution, and it will appear, since the Revolution, she 
had no constitutional Parliament. From 1692 to 1768, 
near seventy years, almost two-thirds of a century, the 
tenure was during the life of the King ; since that time of 
limitation of the term, there have been two reforms in the 
essence of Parliament; but reforms which I shall dis- 
tinguish from the constitutional reform desired in the bill, 
by the appellation of anti-reforms. The first anti-reform 
produced by the Treasury was the creation of a number 
of new parliamentary provisions in the years 1769, 1770, 
and 1771, for the purpose of creating representatives 
of the minister to counteract and counterbalance the re- 
presentatives of the aristocracy ; this anti-reform, or 
modelling of the Legislature, was emphatically described 
and authoritatively confessed by a memorable declaration 
and scandalous justification ; and the Government was 
said to have paid for defeating the aristocratic influence a 
sum of half a million — a sum which would have bought 
fifty boroughs to be open to the people, and which the 
people were declared to have paid to procure a certain 
number of members in Parliament to represent the mi- 

" The second period of anti-reform was in 1789, when 
the same sum was declared as likely to be expended for 
the same purpose — for the purpose of buying more repre- 
sentatives of the then minister to counteract the remaining 
strength of the representatives of the aristocracy ; that 
is, when fifteen new parliamentary provisions were created 
to procure fifteen new ministerial representatives. Here 
is the other half million, and here are two anti-reforms 
which have cost the nation as much as would buy one 
hundred boroughs — that is, all the boroughs ; which (the 
fifteen new court representatives of 1789 being added 
to those of 1769, or about that period, and to the gradual 
additions since) make altogether from forty to fifty new 
additional representatives of administration, which is a 
number nearly equal to all the knights of the shire. 

" The question is not now whether you will admit the 
idea of a reform in Parliament, but having submitted 
to reformation in the shape of abuse, whether you will 
not now counteract that abuse in the shape of reforma- 


Unfortunately for the repose of the country, 
this useful and necessary measure was rejected, 
and the motion that the bill be read a second 
time on the 1st of August was carried by 142 to 
44. Thus ended all hopes of constitutional re- 
dress and parliamentary reform. The United 
Irishmen profited by this error, and acquired 
additional strength and numbers, in consequence 
of the conduct of the Government, and the mis- 
taken views which they took on this great national 

On the 25th of March, Parliament was pro- 
rogued in a speech of the Lord-lieutenant, ex- 
pressive of the satisfaction of His Majesty at 
finding such a feeling of unanimity in resisting 
the oppressions of France, and stating that the 
only disturbances existing were those in the south 
of Ireland, where, in the county of Cork, bodies 
of men, but unarmed, had met to administer oaths 
for the purpose of procuring redress for alleged 
grievances ; that Government had issued a pro- 
clamation, and by the exertion of the magistrates 
and the militia, that had now been called out, the 
spirit of insubordination was quelled. 

Before we proceed to the short administration 
of Lord Fitzwilliam, we may advert to Edmund 
Burke. At this period he had been afflicted by 
a severe domestic calamity — the loss of his only 
son, who died on the 2nd of August, 1794, at the 
age of 36, just after he had been elected Member 
for the borough of Malton* in place of his father. 
As already mentioned, he had taken, under this 
paternal and careful \ guidance, an active part in 

* Belonging to Lord Fitzwilliam, who, it was said, would have 
appointed Burke secretary on accepting the Lord-lieutenancy of 

f In a letter to his son, 1st of October, 1792, he writes — "As to 
your clients, (the Catholics) in my opinion, as long as they keep them- 
selves firm to the solid ground of the British constitution, they are safe 


the Catholic politics of Ireland. Mr. Burke 
seems to have been attached to him, not only 
with a parental but an enthusiastic affection, and to 
have loved him with more than ordinary feelings ; 
he even sacrificed his better opinion, not only to 
the judgment of his son, but to his interest also ; 
as, in his statement to Mr. Grattan, he declared 
that he accepted the pension from Government for 
the sake of his son, and not for himself. 

On the subject of his loss, Mr. Grattan wrote 
to him, and Mr. Burke's reply was most interest- 
ing and affecting. It is to be regretted that Mr. 
Grattan's letter could not be found. Mrs. Burke 
searched for it, but in vain. The sentiments and 
principles of great and good men are worthy of 
being recorded, as of being imitated. Those 
which Mr. Burke here points out would be a safe 
guide to future ministers in Ireland. The feeling 
of " humanity'' which he praises would have done 
honour to a better age than that in which he lived, 
and to a happier country than that to which they 
peculiarly applied, and where but a few years 
afterwards there commenced a species of defama- 
tion and detraction, amounting almost to proscrip- 
tion ; where the law ceased to operate ; the magis- 
trate failed to act — virtue and morality were ex- 
tinct; and where the misplaced term of "loyal 
men," and " loyal Protestant ," procured indemnity 
for outrage, impunity to crime, and became the 
only passport and a sure protection. 

for the present, and must be successful; but if they have any mistaken 
theorists to carry them into any thing like the principles adopted in 
France, they will not only be baffled, but baffled with shame." Again, 
on 17th October — " Your adversaries are busy every where, and have 
filled the minds of the people with the idea of a rebellion of the Roman 
Catholics ready to break out." And again on the 2nd of Nov ember, he 
says — "The junta in Ireland entirely governs the Castle, and the Castle 
by its representations of the country governs the ministry here ; so that 
the whole evil has originated, and does still originate among ourselves/' 



Beaconsfield, Sept. 3, 1794. 

aIy dear Sir, — I am deeply affected with your letter. 
Nothing could be more generous and compassionate than 
your attention to those who drag on what is called life, in 
this afflicted family. I derive no part of my support under 
my heavy calamity from the oblivion of what I have 
lost; on the contrary, to hear my son spoken of as he 
deserves, and so spoken of by a man like you, affords me 
as much comfort as I am capable of deriving from any 
human source. You say kind things, with all that fine 
spirit, point, and originality,* which others have employed 
in satirizing the faults or Jollies of mankind. They are 
soothing to my mind, not because on my part they are 
founded, but because they are a proof of the sacrifices 
which great geniuses are capable of making to great hu- 
manity. This instance of your condescension has some- 
thing healing in it, to a mind deeply wounded by domestic 
misfortune, and which, when that misfortune came, was 
sore, and irritable enough, from the sufferings of others, 
under the unexampled atrocity of the age we live in. 
Preserve and cultivate that humanity, which in you is the 
effect both of nature and reflection — without it, the benefit 
of the greatest ability is, at best, ambiguous. 

You talk, my dear sir, of my son's continuing my fame, 
if he had lived. Indeed, he had a good career, wholly his 
own y before him. I am sure that if it had not pleased God 
to permit him to be taken from us, just as he had set his 
foot upon the threshold of public life, instead of his being 
distinguished by keeping up my reputation as a son, I 
should have derived all my title to fame, from having been 
his father. His virtues overshadowed his abilities ; what 
he kept back was known only to those who were in a 
situation to inspect the magazines that were in his mind. 
If, for some years past, there was anything in my conduct 
which can merit your approbation, I faithfully assure you 
that it has been in a great measure (and in some parts 
wholly) owing to the counsels of my dear lost friend and 
adviser, who has paid back to me, and in kind, and with 
usury, whatever care I had taken in his early education, 
by becoming, in his turn, my instructor and my guide. 

* Mrs. Burke, to whom application was made for this letter, informed 
me she could not find it. 

154 MR. burke's letter on the [chap. VI. 

But that is past. I am retired, and have the less call 
for his instruction, but the more for his support in retreat 
and in age. I have now no objects which can employ my 
mind, but to spin out with second-hand and worn-out 
materials, the broken staple of this life — qua? voluerit me- 
minisse — quec mandaverit exequi — that is, so far as a mind 
impaired by age and sorrow will permit, and as a man 
retired from the busy scene can do, to forward those 
objects, which I know he had the most at heart. I know 
that whilst he was removed from the desire of any official 
situation, there (very far indeed removed from any such 
thought), his eye was fixed on Ireland to the last hour of 
his life, and his eye was fixed on you, as the only man who 
could serve it essentially. I ought, perhaps, to come nearer 
to his idea, by saying, the only man who could save it. He 
never spoke to any one on the subject without expressing this 
sentiment ; nor have I ever spoken, nor shall I ever speak 
any other language than his, because it was always the 
language of truth and wisdom. You have given to Ireland 
the great, hut critical and perilous blessings of liberty and 

It has been your peculiar virtue and felicity that you 
have preserved your country from the abuse of those 
blessings.* That these two things should happen to the 
same man, is a singular instance of the favour of Provi- 
dence. Government ought not to overlook this desig- 
nation ; and this point I should press, if I was at all con- 
sulted, as I have not been, on matters of this sort. 
Perhaps you will be full as successful by standing on 
your own ground. You cannot forget, (if you should, 
others ought not) the great part you acted in the Eman- 
cipation of the Catholics ; that is, of three-fourths of the 
people of Ireland. You remember, too, the active and 
zealous, though very subordinate part, which my Richard 
acted in that great concern. He saw with sorrow the sys- 
tematic pains which were taken, and which, perhaps, still 
are taken to frustrate the effects of your labours, so far as 
the union and concord of the nation was to be promoted by 
them ; he saw with sorrow an attempt to demonstrate that a 
great mass of mankind may be made to feel all the weight 
and pressure of penal statutes, even after they are repealed, 


* This alludes to the proceedings of the Volunteer Convention of 
1733, as well as to the French revolutionary principles. 




One of the last things of which we conversed in the 
chaise as we returned from Malton,* was on the state of 
education in your kingdom. He was of opinion, that if 
some course of instruction for that great body of people, 
(the old Church of Ireland,) especially for their clergy, 
suitable to the genius, the character, and the exigencies of 
their religion, is not adopted and supported by the funds, 
but without the intermeddling of Government, barbarism 
and Jacobinism will almost certainly enter by the breach 
made by the atheistic faction in France, in the destruc- 
tion of the Irish seminaries in that kingdom. D. Walker 
Kingf tells me (for I have not yet had the fortitude 
to look into any of his papers) that he has left some notes 
on that subject in writing: if you should agree with him 
in this opinion, you will command my confined ideas, and 
my feeble endeavours, in any way you please ; the thing 
ought to originate from you, because, in the first place, 
it will come with great authority — and next, because you 
will prevent it being made a matter of private emolument 
for any individual, or a snare for the people, for whose 
benefit the scheme is proposed. At the same time, it is 
much more our common concern to consider the substance 
of religion, than the interests of the factions which are 
formed upon it. 

Now that I have touched upon this subject, you will 
have the goodness to excuse me if I go a little further, 
and say a word upon what very greatly concerns the cause 
of religion, order, and morals, and ultimately good govern- 
ment itself, in our Anglo-Irish Church. It is the religion 
of the higher orders of the people, and of almost all 
the efficient part of the community. Our universities 
here and in Ireland are, in the primary intention, semi- 
naries for the Church, and very properly so, in my opinion. 
Lay institution, though of great importance, is, with re- 
gard to those bodies, only secondary in the eye of the 
founder, and of the policy of the foundation. This order 
is proper ; the laity lose nothing by that just and natural 
superiority which religion ought to have in all doctrine. 
Nobody regards and honours the present Provost more 

* The place for which the son had just been elected to parliament, 
f Bishop of Rochester, an intimate friend of Mr. Burke. 


than I do ; and I am sure that his energy of mind, and his 
love of fame, have prevented many of the mischiefs that 
might have been apprehended from the departure from the 
statutes in his appointment. But this is "jus singulare" 
at this time. Religion and its ministers ought to be re- 
garded with at least all the honour and reverence which 
the law bestows upon them. Their natural pre-eminence 
in education ought to be scrupulously preserved upon 
every principle of wise policy. 

I have said the more on this subject, because 1 have 
seen it in the newspapers, and it is reported and credited in 
Ireland that I have solicited this appointment for myself, 
and with success. I am very sorry that such a report of 
me should be believed. I know enough of the University 
of Dublin to be conscious of my utter incapacity for 
that employment. I am not statutably qualified for it, 
and I see no reason whatsoever for granting a dispensation 
to me, or to any person of my description ; but I see many 
strong reasons against it. Dr. Murray, whom I have not 
the honour of knowing, is, I hear on all hands, exceed- 
ingly fit for the office, having been long Vice-Provost with 
a high reputation. Others of the Senior Fellows (with 
some of whom I have a slight acquaintance), are undoubt- 
edly fit for that, or any ecclesiastical station. I wonder 
how this rumour came to prevail. I do not think that any 
one in the English or the Irish ministry have thought of 
me for that office. But the last person who could think of 
me for it is myself. In the very first paroxysms of my 
grief, when my excellent friend, Mr. Windham, came to 
console me, I disclaimed to him my having ever had any 
thoughts of that object, and authorised him to tell some of 
our common friends in the ministry my general sentiments 
on that occasion. I hope there is yet time enough to 
think of it ,• for though Mr. Hutchinson is not young, 
he may yet live for many years, and I wish he may. # 

Forgive, my dear Sir, the length of this letter. Age is 

* The day after Mr, Burke wrote this letter, the provost died, on the 
4th of September, at the age of 74, at Buxton, where he had gone for the 
benefit of his health. He was interred in Christ Church, Dublin. His 
funeral was attended by all ranks and classes, and by the fellows and 
members of the university. All seemed eager to pay the last tribute of 
respect to such a man as Mr. Hutchinson, who had acted so conspicuous 
a part in the history in Ireland, — supported the rights and liberties of 
the Catholic as well as those of the Protestant, and upheld the name and 
independence of his country. 



generally loquacious, and sorrow finds a vent in speaking 
of its object, and whatsoever relates to it. On this subject 
were our last discourses. Your humanity has brought 
this trouble upon you. My afflicted wife, whose loss is 
not that of an only son, but of such a son, as in that rela- 
tion had no parallel, is perfectly sensible of the generous 
sympathy of Mrs. Grattan and of yourself in her terrible 
feelings ; the efforts she makes to support me are incon- 

We beg our best respects and most grateful acknow- 
ledgments to Mrs. Grattan. — Believe me, with the highest 
respect and affection, my dear Sir, your most faithful and 
obliged humble servant, Edmund Burke. 

It is necessary to advert to the proceedings of 
the Defenders and of the United Irishmen, parties 
totally distinct and separate. The latter had not 
made any considerable progress since 1791. Their 
publications on the subject of Parliamentary Re- 
form and of Catholic Emancipation were long, vehe- 
ment, and declamatory, and in general injurious 
to the cause they were intended to advocate. The 
individuals of that body who first suffered were 
punished by the House of Lords, not for any 
political offence, but merely for a breach of privi- 
lege. Doctor Reynolds, an active Northern, had 
been committed to Newgate for refusing to answer 
some questions respecting the United Irishmen. 
The Honourable Simon Butler and Oliver Bond 
were imprisoned for six months, and fined 500/. 
for publishing a paper of the society that reflected 
on the Committee of the Lords ; but this measure, 
far from appeasing, served only to exasperate the 
people, and produced no beneficial results what- 
ever ; for the exercise of arbitrary power, particu- 
larly on that undefined question of privilege, by a 
body at once accuser, jury, and judge, can never 
impress the public mind with an idea of impartial 
justice, and the people will never believe them 
other than acts of tyranny and oppression. The 



present contests seem to have been illegal as well 
as unconstitutional, and such was the opinion of 
Mr. Forbes, one of the most upright and inde- 
pendent men of those times, who addressed Mr. 
Hardy on the subject: — 


Dear Hardy, 

Thanks for your note. I can't meet you at Tinnehinch 
to-morrow. I have engaged deeply in investigating some 
points, and will not quit my occupation for your shabby 
society, Sir Frank's, or Harry Grattan's ! ! I have probed 
the questions of the commitments of Reynolds, and of Butler 
and Bond by the Lords, to the bottom. I am clear that the 
first is illegal; and am almost, or at least, in a few hours I 
believe, shall be certain that Butler s is equally illegal. Are 
we to have my bills* in substance, or only in name ? Come 
up on Tuesday night; if you do not appear I shall out- 
law you ; if you do, some roast mutton shall be your 
reward. Does not Somerville vindicate Russell, Sidney, 
&c. from Dalrymple's imputations with much ability ? 

Yours ever, 

Dublin, May 25th, 1793. John Forbes. 

Defenderism was now spreading through the 
country, and was assuming a more dangerous cha- 
racter, actuated by the hostility of the two reli- 
gious sects, and goaded on by a spirit of persecu- 
tion which had of late displayed itself in a new 
and fearful manner. Mr. Foster (the Speaker) 
resided in the county of Louth, where these dis- 
turbances prevailed to a great extent, and where 
also lived one of the oldest and most respected 
Roman Catholic families of Ireland, that of Sir 
Patrick Bel lew. Mr. Foster had, as already men- 
tioned, taken a strong part against the Catholics 
in 1792, both in Ireland and in England: the evil 
consequences of those proceedings, and the dan- 
ger of inflaming the minds of the people, was 
quickly felt, and began to affect persons in a 

* Place and Pension bills. 


lower rank of life, and less scrupulous characters. 
A creature of the Speaker (whose name it is not 
necessary to mention), a man of middle rank in 
society, was said to have planned the wicked pro- 
ceedings instituted against this ancient Roman 
Catholic family, conceiving that if such a name 
was implicated in disturbance, Defenderism, and 
treason, a great object would be gained by the 
high-church party, and an effectual blow struck 
against the Roman Catholic cause. Accordingly, 
a wretched informer of the name of Murphy came 
forward and swore against a son of Sir Patrick 
Bellew, and accused him of being a Defender. 
The informations were sent to the grand jury, of 
which Mr. Foster was chairman, and true bills 
were found against Mr. Bellew, and he was put 
on his trial ; but so invalid and conflicting was 
the testimony of the witness, that the petty jury 
disbelieved him, and Mr. Bellew was acquitted. 
This attack upon the Catholics of the first rank 
having failed, an attempt was then made upon the 
middle class, and Messrs. Hamill, Bird, and Dela- 
hoyde (merchants), with four other persons of 
inferior note, were accused by the same indi- 
vidual, and also by another informer (Grimes), of a 
design to disarm the Protestants, to introduce aid 
from France, to purchase arms and ammunition, 
and raise a rebellion in the country. They were 
tried in April, 1794, at Drogheda ; the informers 
were by most respectable witnesses declared un- 
worthy of belief, — the prisoners were acquitted, 
the informers were prosecuted for perjury, and 
one of them transported. 

Thus failed the second plot against the Roman 
Catholics ; the feelings of the people were greatly 
excited, and their indignation kindled to the 
highest pitch. The impression made on the public 
mind was most injurious : the connection of Mr. 



Foster with the Government, and the part that he 
had taken in the late transactions against the Ca- 
tholics, awakened the most dismal apprehensions. 
This was the commencement of that system of 
spies and informers that rose afterwards to such a 
horrid height, when these wretches became both 
witness and executioner, and sovereign arbiter of 
life and death. Curran, in describing the system 
in the trial of Finnerty for a libel, December, 
1797, thus addresses the jury : — 

" Let me ask you honestly, what do you feel when in 
my hearing — when in the face of this audience, you are 
called upon to give a verdict that every man of us, and 
every man of you, know by the testimony of your own 
eyes, to be utterly and absolutely false? I speak not now 
of the public proclamations of informers with a promise of 
secrecy and of extravagant reward. I speak not of the 
fate of those horrid wretches who have been so often 
transferred from the table to the dock, and from the dock 
to the pillory. I speak of what your own eyes have seen 
day after day during the course of this commission, from 
the box where you are now sitting ; — the number of horrid 
miscreants who avowed upon their oaths that they had 
come from the very seat of Government — from the Castle, 
where they had been worked upon by the fear of death, 
and the hopes of compensation, to give evidence against 
their fellows — that the mild and wholesome councils of this 
Government are holden over these catacombs of living 
death, where the wretch that is buried a man, lies till 
his heart has time to fester and dissolve, and is then dug 
up a witness. 

" Is this fancy, or is it fact ? Have you not seen him 
after his resurrection from that tomb — after* having been 
dug out of the region of death and corruption, make his 
appearance upon the table, the living image of life and of 
death, and the supreme arbiter of both ? Have you not 
marked, when he entered, how the stormy wave of the 
multitude retired at his approach ? Have you not 
marked how the human heart bowed to the supremacy of 
his power in the undissembled homage of deferential 
horror? — how his glance, like the lightning of heaven, 
seemed to rive the body of the accused, and mark it for 



the grave ; while his voice warned the devoted wretch of 
woe and death — a death which no innocence can escape, 
no art elude, no force resist, no antidote prevent. There 
was an antidote — a juror's oath, but even that adamantine 
chain that bound the integrity of men to the throne of 
Eternal Justice, is solved and melted in the breath that 
issues from the informer's mouth. Conscience swings 
from her moorings; and the appalled and affrighted juror 
consults his own safety in the surrender of his victim — 

Et quae sibi quisque timebat 

Unius in miseri exitium conversa tulere. 

Again, in the case of Finny, in 1798, Mr. 
Curran, in describing the character of O'Brien, 
the informer, says, — 

" Gracious God ! is a tyranny of this kind to be borne 
with where law is said to exist? Shall the horrors which 
surround the informer, — the ferocity of his countenance, 
and the terrors of his voice, cast such a wide and ap- 
palling influence that none dare approach and save the 
victim which he marks for ignominy and death ! 


u Have you any doubt that it is the object of O'Brien 
to take down the prisoner for the reward that follows ? 
Have you not seen with what more than instinctive keen- 
ness this blood-hound has pursued his victim ? How he 
has kept him in view from place to place, until he hunts 
him through the avenues of the Court to where the un- 
happy man stands now — hopeless of all succour but that 
which your verdict shall afford ? I have heard of assassi- 
nation by sword, by pistol, and by dagger ; but here is a 
wretch who would dip the Evangelists in blood!! If he 
thinks he has not sworn his victim to death, he is ready to 
swear without mercy, and without end. But oh ! do not, 
I conjure you, suffer him to take an oath ; the arm of the 
murderer should not pollute the purity of the Gospel ; if 
he will swear, let it be on the knife, the proper symbol of his 
profession ! !" 

The trials of the Defenders were the first- 
fruits of the report from the Committee of the 
House of Lords in 1793, on the charges against 
the people of disaffection, and of French con- 



nexion, which Lord Clare said he had sufficient 
proof to establish, but in which he signally 
failed. Another individual, who was now des- 
tined to pass through a more severe ordeal, was 
Mr. Archibald Hamilton Rowan, a gentleman of 
family and fortune in the north of Ireland, whose 
conduct, character, and station in society entitle 
him to consideration. In point of personal ap- 
pearance and accomplishments, few men could be 
found equal to Mr. Rowan — none superior : a 
fine figure, the form of an Athlete, a striking 
countenance, a noble bust — he seemed modelled 
for a Hercules ; in address, tone and manner he 
was pleasing and persuasive ; he had much more 
of the courtier about him than the tribune ; his 
mind was talented, playful, and ingenious, and 
could apply itself to mechanical and mathematical 
pursuits with as much, if not more ease than to 
politics, and certainly with better success ; he 
possessed public spirit, and an ardent, but ill- 
regulated love of liberty ; he lacked judgment 
and prudence, and was vain in the extreme ; he 
wanted foresight and strength of mind, and, in 
consequence, was duped and deceived, and be- 
came not merely a sufferer, but a victim. 

There were two curious circumstances con- 
nected with the history of this gentleman, and 
with the offence which he was charged, (namely, 
the publication and distribution of a seditious 
libel.) In the first place, he was not the author 
of the libel ; next, he was not the distributor, his 
expressions at the trial confirm this ; when speak- 
ing of the paper in question he said, " I honour 
the head that composed, I love the hand that 
penned it." It is now well known that the libel 
was written by Doctor Drennan,* and was distri- 

* Dr. Drennan was, however, tried for this and acquitted. 



buted by a person of the name of Willis,* an 
active tradesman in Dublin, and who in appear- 
ance was not unlike Mr. Rowan, and in a crowded 
meeting would easily have been mistaken for 

In December 1792 he was arrested by a war- 
rant from Judge Downes. He gave bail — remained 
a considerable time in Dublin, and solicited his 
trial : his request was not complied with, nor was 
any indictment preferred against him. At length 
an ex officio information was filed, and an error 
appearing in it, Mr. Rowan agreed to waive the 
objection and abide his trial. This, however, the 
Government refused. Another ex officio informa- 
tion was then filed against him, and at length the 
case came on in January 1794, when he was 
found guilty. The libel was a paper from the 
United Irishmen, addressed to the Volunteers by 
the title of Citizen Soldiers, calling on them to 
arm and form a Convention, to assemble at Dun- 
gannon, for the purpose of carrying Roman Ca- 
tholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform. 
It contained an appeal to peace and order as well 
as to arms and liberty ; — if it deserved punish- 
ment, it was more from the imprudence it con- 
tained than the injury it committed. It was a 
brawling, mischievous, theatrical performance, 
calculated to terrify the timid, disgust the mo- 
derate, and finally to prevent the Reform of Par- 
liament. For this work of another person Mr. 
Rowan suffered. He was condemned in a very 
severe sentence — namely, a fine of 500/., and two 
years' imprisonment ; however, after three months' 
confinement, he contrived to escape. f He first 

* I knew this person ; a bold, courageous, and spirited citizen. 

f An instance of Irish fidelity deserves to be recorded. When Mr. 
Rowan was waiting in the boat for a fair wind to bring him to France, 
the sailors had occasion to go on shore, where they got the proclama- 
tion for his apprehension. On their return they showed in a very 
M 2 



fled to France, then to America ; in his absence 
he was accused of being a traitor. Lord West- 
moreland issued a proclamation, stating he was 
charged with treason ; but when, where, by 
whom, or if on oath, was wholly omitted. No 
matter ; the object was obtained ; his character 
was blemished, and he was proceeded against as 
an outlaw. He banished himself to America, but 
when the Union was passed, he was allowed to 
return home in 1805. The outlawry was re- 
versed, he pleaded the King's pardon, and re- 
mained for the rest of his days a tranquil but firm 
supporter of Irish liberty. 

The next case of importance was that of the 
Rev. Mr. Jackson, the only trial for high treason 
that had taken place in Ireland for upwards of a 
century. The evidence certainly shewed that 
the French sought to tamper with the Irish, but 
failed* to establish that any national disaffection 
or French connexion existed through the country. 
Mr. Jackson was a clergyman of the Church of 
England ; for some years absent from that coun- 
try, and residing in France, he had rendered him- 
self remarkable by writing in defence of the 
Duchess of Kingston against Mr. Foote, who had 
ridiculed her in some of his farces. By this 
means he got acquainted with her attorney, a 

significant manner that they had discovered who was the person on 
board ; but holding the paper in their hand, they exclaimed, *' Here it 

is; but if the reward was twice a thousand pound, by J we shall 

land him safe at the other side." 

* Judge Day, who had gone to the South of Ireland at this period on 
a mission from Government, was so far from discovering or thinking 
that any treason then existed, that he speaks of the people in most 
lenient terms, and in his reply to the corporation of Cork (July, 1794), 
on presenting him with a silver box, on the occasion, says, " My idea 
has always been that the errors of the uninformed multitude are entitled 
to the tenderest indulgence ; that protection, persuasion^ and mild control 
are the means most likely to subdue them to order and law; and that when 
rigour must be resorted to, the efficacy of example depends more on the 
selection than the multiplication of public victims." It would have been 
fortunate if Lords Camden and Castlereagh had been of this opinion. 



man of the name of Cockayne, from whom he had 
occasionally borrowed money. He now came 
over as an envoy from France, deputed from the 
committee of Saint publique, to enquire into the 
state of Great Britain and Ireland, and their will- 
ingness to accept the aid of French fraternity, 
and shake off the yoke of their Government. His 
views being disclosed to Cockayne, the latter 
revealed them to Mr. Pitt, who employed him as 
a spy upon Jackson, and allowed both of them to 
proceed to Ireland in April 1794, under the care, 
however, of a King's messenger. So little of 
treasonable practices between Ireland and France 
existed at that period, that these parties came 
over without the knowledge of a single partizan, 
without any political acquaintance, or even with- 
out an introduction to any individual of note. 
One person alone, Mr. Leonard M'Nally, who 
had been at the English bar, was acquainted with 
Jackson, and from him he got an introduction 
to Hamilton Rowan, then in Newgate, and there 
first commenced this conspiracy, proposed by a 
person under the surveillance of Mr. Pitt's spy, 
in concert with a man secured in His Majesty's 
gaol, and to whom access could only be obtained 
by the permission of Government. Nothing 
could be more foolish or absurd than these pro- 
ceedings — perhaps as ridiculous as they were 
mischievous : they certainly shewed how little dis- 
posed the Irish then were to join the French ; 
and established the fact, that at this time there 
was no French party in the country. It was not 
a conspiracy, but a voyage of discovery in search 
of treason, under the superintendence of Mr. Pitt, 
who allowed his emissary to proceed to Ireland, 
not to detect a conspiracy, but to form one, and 
thus increase the dupes of one party and the 
victims of the other — a singular instance of per- 




fidy and cruelty. It is right, therefore, to say, 
that as far as the Irish were concerned,* the only 
document that proved anything against them was 
the statement of the situation and disposition of 
the people of Ireland, which was produced at the 
trial of Mr. Jackson, and which might have been 
written by any individual without a wicked in- 
tent, and in which there was little matter of a 
treasonable nature, though certainly there were 
very strong expressions of a high sense of injury, 
and great imprudence of phrase. In England no 
one would have been convicted on such a docu- 
ment ; however, in Ireland, where one witness 
only was required, conviction for treason was 
more easily procured. This paper was drawn up 
by Mr. Tone,t and copied by Mr. Rowan in 
Newgate, for the purpose of being sent to France. 
Tone was applied to, and declined to be the mes- 
senger ; upon this, Cockayne made the discovery, 
and Jackson was arrested. He was indicted 
in June 1794, but was not tried until April 1795, 
when he was found guilty, and terminated his 
existence by poisoning himself in the dock. It 
was on the discovery of the document in question 
that Mr. Hamilton Rowan thought proper to fly, 
more from fear than from guilt. Mr. Tone re- 
mained, confessed he had written the document, 
and being supported by the friendship and in- 
terest of Mr. Marcus Beresford, a relation of Lord 
Clare's, and by Mr. George Knox, he effected 
an arrangement with Government, and remained 
in the country until Lord Camden's arrival, when 
in June 1795 he went to America. 

* Gilford, in his life of Pitt, contends that long before this the Irish, 
and in particular the Catholics, were in connexion with the French ; 
but he adduces no proof whatever in support of his assertion, as in 
other of his virulent charges against Ireland. 

f Mr. Tone's son publishes in his work a document much stronger 
than that proved by the Crown on his father's trial. 



The conduct of the Government on this occa- 
sion was singular and deserving of condemnation; 
they should not have declared Mr. Rowan traitor 
if they let Mr. Tone pass unpunished, for his of- 
fence was the greater of the two ; but then Mr. 
Tone was secretary to the Catholics, and was still 
connected with the body to which the leading 
men in the Government were hostile, and whose 
reputation, as already stated, they had sought to 
blemish. Thus they left the Catholics exposed 
to the charge of being connected with seditious 
characters, knowing that they must suffer thereby 
in point of reputation, and greatly injure their 
cause ; and though it was incumbent on the Go- 
vernment to prevent the people from involving 
themselves with bad men and in bad practices, 
they neglected their duty ; hence they were 
charged with connivance at such machinations, 
and a desire to let the people commit themselves, 
and become entangled in a blind species of con- 
spiracy, where there seems to have been more 
bungling than treason. They did not think 
Mr. Tone's conduct such as to disentitle him 
from acting for the Catholics, though they knew 
he was much more implicated than the man whom 
they accused of treason and proclaimed, whereas if 
they had intended to act the part of a sincere and 
honest Government, they would have cut off all 
communication between such a man and the 
Catholic body ; but the fact was, they had ulterior 
objects, and wished the Catholics to dip in sedition. 
Burke's advice on this subject* was wise and 
salutary; the conduct of Lord Clare and Mr. Fos- 
ter was negligent and treacherous ; Mr. Grattan's 
was prudent and judicious : he showed more fair- 
ness and foresight with respect to these indivi- 
duals, though he had less means of acquiring a 

* See his Letter, page 151, note. 



knowledge of their character than the Govern- 
ment : he thought it right to keep the Catholics 
aloof from that party, as appears from Mr. Tone's 
private memoirs, where it is stated that Mr. Grattan 
would not recommend him to Lord Fitzwilliam's 
administration because he was a United Irishman. 

Tone was a man of some ability and great live- 
liness of mind ; he had read lightly, not deeply, 
but amusingly ; he possessed some humour, much 
mirth, a warm and active imagination, and formed 
on the whole a most agreeable companion ; but he 
was ill suited to lead a party such as he aspired 
to govern, and probably never would have suc- 
ceeded in his object. He strove to unite the De- 
fenders with the United Irishmen, but had neither 
weight nor influence sufficient for the purpose. 
Educated for the legal profession, he would have 
lived quietly, and risen with success under British 
Government, if he had not ventured upon politics, 
which destroyed all his fortunes, and cost him his 
life. After Edmund Burke's son ceased to be 
secretary to the Catholic Convention, he was ap- 
pointed ; he was active in their committees, and 
received 1,500/. for his services ; his fate was 
tragical ; — forced to leave Ireland, he chose also to 
leave America and proceed to France, where, with 
great perseverance, he urged the French Directory 
to send troops to Ireland, in which he was greatly 
assisted by Lord Clare, whose violent speeches 
and misrepresentations of the Irish people, were 
his credentials to the French Government, and 
procured for his application what he could not of 
himself have obtained— not only reception, but 
success. He accompanied one of the expeditions, 
and in September, 1798, was captured in the 
Hoche frigate, which, along with nine other ves- 
sels, appeared under Bompart, off the North coast 
of Ireland, where they were defeated and dis- 




persed by Sir John Borlase Warren. Tone was 
taken prisoner ; he was at that time in the French 
service, and being invited to a breakfast, along 
with other French officers, by the Earl of Cavan, 
who commanded in the district of Letterkenny; 
was recognized by Sir George Hill. Being thus 
discovered, he was placed in irons, and sent to 
Dublin, where, although the law courts were sitting 
he was tried by court martial ; he acknowledged 
that he was found in arms, — in hostility to the 
Government of the king, — declared that he was 
an officer in the French service, and acting under 
the French flag; he proved his rank of adjutant- 
general, and produced his brevet from the Direc- 
tory, signed by the French minister of war. He 
was tried on the 10th of November by a court of 
military officers, and found guilty. He asked to 
be shot by a platoon of grenadiers ; but this was 
refused by Lord Cornwallis, and his execution 
was fixed for the 12th of November, on which he 
attempted to destroy himself by severing the jugu- 
lar artery. In the mean time Mr. Curran applied 
to the King's Bench on the affidavit of the father, 
against the decision of the court martial, which he 
declared to be illegal. The King's Bench being 
the supreme criminal court of the land, Lord Kil- 
warden, who was the chief justice, issued his writ 
of habeas corpus, but neither the provost marshal, 
Major Sandes, nor General Craig, would obey it. 
It was, however, found impossible to move him in 
consequence of his attempt to commit suicide. 
The court issued an order suspending the execu- 
tion, and directing that the provost marshal and 
Major Sandes should be taken into custody. 
Tone, however, died on the 19th, in consequence 
of the wound he had inflicted. 

We now approach a most important event; one 
in which Mr. Grattan was personally concerned, 




and which had nearly proved most fortunate for 
Ireland (the Viceroyship of Lord Fitzwilliam); but 
unluckily it turned out to be the very reverse; and 
the disappointment occasioned by its failure, and 
by his recall, greatly increased the national dis- 
content, and produced many of the calamities that 
afterwards befel the country. 

The separation of Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox in 
politics* had been most unfortunate ; it not only 
took the aristocratic leaders from the opposition, 
but divided them. Mr. Burke brought over many 
of the aristocracy with him, and reduced Mr. 
Fox's party very low; and in his reply to him 
after their quarrel he spoke in very harsh terms, 
and the breach became irreparable. Lord Fitz- 
william, the Duke of Portland, Lord Spencer, and 
some others, followed Mr. Burke ; they accepted 
office, and were told that they would come into 
power with their party and their measures ; it 
proved, however, to be no such thing — they had 
but a few of their party, and none of their mea- 

In July, 1794, Lord Fitzwilliam was appointed 
President of the Council; Lord Spencer, Lord 
Privy Seal; the Duke of Portland, Secretary of 
State ; and Mr. Windham, Secretary at War. An 
opportunity here presented itself to Mr. Pitt to 
strengthen his party ; not only by dividing, but 
by degrading his opponents ; and he did not fail to 
avail himself of it, as appears from the conduct 

* On the subject of the French revolution, and in the debate on the 
Quebec bill (1790), the schism between these two celebrated individuals 
openly broke forth. Mr. Burke considered himself ill-treated by Mr. 
Fox's friends, and concluded one of his speeches with these remarkable 
expressions: — "Fly from the French constitution!" Mr. Fox here 
whispered, "There is no loss of friendship." " I regret to say there is," 
was the reply. " I know the value of my line of conduct ; I have 
indeed made a great sacrifice ; I have done my duty, though I have lost 
my friend ; there is something in the detested French constitution that 
envenoms every thing it. touches." Here_ ended all fricndly^intercourse 
between them. 


he observed towards Lord Fitzvvilliam, and his 
friends ; the private history was pretty nearly as 
follows : — 

In August (1794), Mr. Denis Bowes Daly, and 
some of the members of the opposition came to 
Tinnehinch, on the part of the Ponsonbys, and 
informed Mr. Grattan of the favourable change 
which was likely to take place in the Government: 
they requested of him to use his best efforts to 
effect their common object ; that Mr. Pitt, it 
was reported, was friendly to Ireland ; that he had 
already shown himself friendly to the Catholics, 
and had of old declared himself friendly to reform. 
They urged Mr. Grattan, if their party came into 
power, to accept office ; and pressed him to take 
that of Chancellor of the Exchequer (one which it 
must be admitted was not the best suited either to 
his habits or disposition). He was somewhat 
surprised at this offer, because the Chancellor of 
the Exchequer happened to be his intimate friend, 
and never anxious to accept office, it could hardly 
be supposed that he would supplant him ; accord- 
ingly he gave them an ambiguous answer, that he 
would consider the matter ; but in the mean time, 
he wrote anonymously to Sir John Parnell, ap- 
prizing him that his place was in danger, and 
recommended him to look to it. He was not 
as sanguine in his hopes as some of the party, and 
doubted the realization of their wishes. His 
friend Day was then in London, and to him he 
wrote as follows : — 


\Qth July, 1794. 
My dear Day, — I thank you for your letter, and if 
you continue in England write to me when you have 
time — the news, the changes, the probable changes, of 
the great — of the people. What do you think of the 
French ? Damn 'em, I wish they were driven out of 


Flanders;* however, at present, that don't seem exactly 
the turn of things. No news here. I have sprained my 
hand, and write with difficulty. Yours, 

H. Grattan. 

A letter from Lord Fitzwilliam soon removed all 
doubt on the subject of a change in the adminis- 
tration, and induced Mr. Grattan to go to London, 
not indeed with the intention of availing himself 
of Lord Fitzwilliam's offer to form a closer con- 
nexion with the Castle, but to forward the mea- 
sures which the party had in view, and which 
they, as well as the people, had pronounced to 
be necessary for the prosperity of Ireland. 

* The success of the allies in the early part of 1793, had been 
counterbalanced by a series of defeats towards the latter end of that 
year and the beginning of 1794. The battle of Famars had been fought 
on the 8th of May, 1793, by the Austrians and Prussians, together with 
the British and Irish, under the Duke of York. They defeated the 
French under Dampierre, who died of the wounds he received in the 
action. On the 22nd of July the Prussians captured Mayence, making 
General Custine and 17,000 men prisoners; but on the 8th of Sep- 
tember reverses commenced. The Duke of York was defeated at 
Hondschoot, and the siege of Dunkirk was raised. On the 18th of May 
1794, the battle of Tournay took place, where the British and Irish 
troops under the Duke of York, and the allies under Clairfait and the 
Archduke Charles, sustained a total defeat, the Duke of York narrowly 
escaped being taken prisoner, and it was only by the great exertions of 
General Abercromby and General Fox, that his troops effected their 
retreat and were saved from total destruction. The French were com- 
manded by Moreau, Souham, and Macdonald. On the 26th of June 
the battle of Fleurus took place, in which the allies were again worsted, 
and which action secured for the second time the conquest of Belgium 
to the French. The error committed in the campaign was, that the line 
of the allies was too extended. Their army was composed of English, 
Scotch, Irish, Dutch, Hanoverians, Hessians, and Austrians. The 
Duke of York kept his troops apart from the rest. In fact he was no 
General, and was more fitted to issue regulations at the Horse Guards 
than orders in the field. It forms a great charge against Mr. Pitt, that 
be sacrificed the interests of the country to the King, by allowing his 
son to command the army. If the minister had been punished for his 
misconduct in this instance, Lord Castlereagh would, probably, have 
been deterred from sending in 1809, a most inefficient commander (Lord 
Chatham), to Walcheren, where so many thousand brave troops 
perished through sickness and fever in the pestilential marshes of Hol- 
land. Impunity in the first instance, led to commendation in the 
second ; and the Imperial Parliament was base enough to pass a vote 
of approbation in favour of Mr. Percival and his ministry for that ill- 
fated expedition. 





London, Aug. 23, 1794. 
Sir — Though 1 have not as yet the honour of an ap- 
pointment to succeed Lord Westmoreland, there certainly 
is great probability of that event taking place very soon. 
Trusting that neither my connexions nor my principles are 
quite unknown to you, it seems almost needless to say, 
that upon entering upon the administration of the affairs 
in Ireland, I shall look to the system of the Duke of Port- 
land as the model by which I shall regulate the general 
line of my conduct. The chief object of my attempts will 
be, to purify, as far as circumstances and prudence will 
permit, the principles of government, in the hopes of 
thereby restoring to it that tone and spirit which so 
happily prevailed formerly, and so much to the dignity 
as well as the benefit of the country ; but it would be vain 
to hope that any exertions of a Lord-Lieutenant could 
ever effect so desirable an end, unless he meets with the 
concurrence of the most eminent and distinguished cha- 
racters in this very arduous attempt. It is, sir, to you 
and your friends, the Ponsonbys, that I look for assistance 
in bringing it to bear. Without the hope, which I am vain 
enough to entertain of that assistance, I should decline 
engaging in so hopeless a task as the government of 
Ireland. It is that assistance which I am therefore now 
soliciting. I know well the honourable, the useful, the 
important support government has received at your hands 
on many critical occasions, and at different periods; but 
except during the momentary administration of the Duke 
of Portland, I believe it has so happened that you never 
have approached the Castle in confidence, and avowed friend- 
ship : great obstacles have always stood in the way. Should 
these obstacles be removed, 1 trust that distance will no 
longer be necessary ; and that I may entertain a hope of 
seeing you form with the Castle, that sort of intimate, 
direct, and avowed connexion, as will render support 
doubly efficacious. 

I have the honour to be, with the highest esteem, Sir, 
your most obedient and very humble servant, 


P. S. It may seem a little inconsistent, and that this 
letter is written rather prematurely, when I beg not to be 
quoted as having announced myself in the character of a 




Lord-lieutenant elect ; my name not having yet been 
mentioned to the King on account of his absence at 


London, Sept. Ylth, 1794. 

I write to you from London to tell you no news, 
except that I got your letter in Ireland a day or two before 
I left it, and had not time to answer it until this moment, 
viz. a few hours after I have gotten out of the chaise. 

You will assure Mr. Henry # from me, how glad I should 
have been to have seen him, and that I do not despair, 
because I fancy I shall leave England before he leaves 
Henry Street, and shall be at Tinnehinch before he will 
be at Straffen. 

Your friend Doyle I have heard is much better, but 
looks ill. I shall see him to-day. 

Had I been less polite, I should have waited for a day 
to tell you what is going on ; but good-nature should yield 
to good-breeding, which had you in my conscience, though 
not in my eye, and now sends you a letter clear of any- 
thing like intelligence, for it is no news to assure you 
that I am yours very sincerely, 

On Mr. Grattan' s arrival in London, he called 
on the Duke of Portland, who said to him, " I am 
glad to see you; I have taken office, and I have 
done so because 1 know there is an entire change of 
system''' Shortly after this, the party dined at 
the Duke's — Mr. Pitt, the Grenvilles, Lord Fitz- 
william, the Ponsonbys, Sir John Parnell, Mr. 
Grattan, Lord Portarlington, and some others. 
George Ponsonby had not been acquainted with 
Mr. Pitt, the latter sat by Sir John Parnell, 
talked a good deal to him, and seemed to like him 
much ; but the Ponsonbys and the Grenvilles 
were cold and distant, and looked as if they 
would cut each other's throats. Lord Portarling- 

* This individual was connected by marriage with the family of the 
Duke of Leinster; in manners the most polished and agreeable, in 
stature he was small; and a ludicrous error occurred as to him and 
Mr. Grattan in 1798, which will be noticed hereafter. 


ton was taken ill, (the day being very hot,) and was 
carried out of the room. The party, however, did 
not seem to mind the circumstance in the least, or 
evince any anxiety about him ; intent as they were 
on their several projects, the company were cold 
and indifferent — there was no cordiality; they 
appeared to know they could not trust each other, 
and broke up without much satisfaction on either 
side. Sir John Parnell seemed to have made a 
better impression on Pitt, than Pitt did upon him, 
as appears from the following incident. When 
the former was talking of the Irish Catholics, and 
rejoicing at their union with the Protestants, Pitt 
said, "Very true, Sir; but the question is, 
whose will they be?" — thus casting, as Parnell 
thought, an unjust imputation upon that body. 
He made another awkward remark, when he 
observed to Mr. Grattan, " What does Ireland 
want ? What icould she have more The fact was, 
Pitt did not like Ireland, he could not manage 
her as easily as he wished, or, as Mr. Grattan 
expressed it, " She was not handy enough for him" 
It was necessary, however, that Mr. Grattan 
should have a communication with him on the 
subject of Ireland, and he received the following 
notes on the occasion : — 


Mk. Pitt presents his compliments to Mr. Grattan ; 
he wishes much, if it is not disagreeable to Mr. Grattan, 
to have an opportunity of conversing with him confi- 
dentially on the subject of an arrangement in Ireland, and 
for that purpose would take the liberty of requesting to 
see him, either at four to-day, or any time to-morrow 
morning most convenient to Mr. Grattan. 

Downing Street, Wedtiesday, Oct. 1 5th, 1794. 

Mr. Pitt presents his compliments to Mr. Grattan, 
having requested that the conversation which Mr. Grattan 




has had the goodness to allow him might be considered as 
confidential ; he does not think himself at liberty to 
refer to it, without being sure that he has Mr. Grattan's 
permission ; but he rather imagines he will have no ob- 
jection to Mr. Pitt's doing so as far as may be necessary, 
in any explanation on the subject with the Duke of Port- 
land, and any other of his colleagues. 

Mr. Pitt's anxiety to avoid any doubt on this point 
will be his apology for giving Mr. Grattan that additional 

Downing Street, 

Wednesday, Oct. 15th, 1794, f past 5, p. m. 

This interview was an important one, discloses 
the secret history of the transaction, and shews 
how the minister deceived both the Catholics 
and the country. It cannot be said that he 
deceived Mr. Grattan, for the latter declined office, 
being determined not to put himself in his power ; 
besides, he was well aware of the character of the 
individual with whom he was to confer. His old 
friend, Denis Daly,* on whose opinion he always 
had so much relied, and who had been in office 
under Pitt, told Mr. Grattan long before what he 
thought of him. " He was a good minister for Eng- 
land, but a bad minister for Ireland,'' were his 
words. Gerard Hamilton, who was a close observer 
of mankind, and who knew men very well, said, 
" / would not trust Pitt, for depend upon it he'll 
cheat you ; he may be a good theoretical minister, 
but he is a bad practical one" — a very just re- 
mark; doubtless the youth,the family, and the name 
of Pitt had given him the reputation and the air 
of liberality ; but when he came to deal with the 
House of Commons, he found it easier to manage 
them by arts and by money than by any way 
else. Mr. Sergeant Adair was also in London at 
the time, a friend of Mr. Pitt, and an acquain- 
tance of Mr. Forbes and Mr. Grattan ; he told 

* He was Muster-Master-General. 


the latter, " All that is to be done should be set 
down in writing, for if you have any dealings with 
Pitt he' 11 cheat you ; I never would act with him 
except I had pen, ink, and paper." At the meeting 
between Mr. G rattan and Mr. Pitt, the latter 
was very plain and very civil in his manner. Mr. 
Grattan stated to him what his party desired, and 
mentioned the measures that he thought Ireland 
required : the essential one was the Catholic ques- 
tion. Mr. Pitt, upon this, remarked, " Ireland has 
already got much" Mr. Grattan did not tell him 
how she had got it.* They did not enter into the 
details of the Catholic question ; but Mr. Grattan 
put it down upon paper ; in reply to which Mr. 
Pitt used these words : " Not to bring it forward 
as a Government measure, but if Government tvere 
pressed, to yield it." This unquestionably was 
a concession of the Catholic question ; for Mr. 
Pitt knew well that the question would be 
pressed ; it was certain to be brought on. All 
parties — Protestant, Presbyterian, and Catholic — 
had called for it, and at their meetings, passed 
resolutions in its support. Nothing could keep it 
back; it was not an opposition question, nor did 
it stand in need of any instigation ; and of this Mr. 
Pitt was well aware. This was the arrangement 
he made with Mr. Grattan, and as the latter often 
mentioned, " such were the identical edpressions 
There was, however, another subject introduced 
by Mr. Pitt, namely, that of the Lord -Lieutenant ; 
and Mr. Pitt observed, " The question now is, 
how shall Lord Westmoreland be provided for ?" 
This did not appear to Mr. Grattan a valid 
objection, still less an impediment to measures 
in favour of Ireland ; he left this affair to be 
settled by Mr. Pitt : all that he was concerned 
about, was the arrangement for the people. 

* By her armed Volunteers. 


After this, Mr. Grattan went to his party ; they 
pressed him to form one of the Government, and 
were dissatisfied at his declining office. They did 
not wish that he should be one of them, and not 
incur any responsibility ; nor did they like to 
keep in Sir John Parnell : so that he did not suc- 
ceed without some difficulty ; for as he observed, 
" I had to defend Sir John Parnell as well as 
myself, — one from going out of office, and the other 
from coming in. I thought it better, however, to 
patch up the business, and not be the instrument 
of breaking off ; for I had got the great measure, 
and the next thing was to get the men." The 
party accordingly acquiesced ; and though they 
were very desirous of turning out the person who 
had opposed them, they yielded to Mr. Grattan's 
interference, and Sir John Parnell was allowed 
to remain in office. The following letters con- 
firm the foregoing statement. The difficulty 
which Mr. Grattan alludes to, in his letter to 
Mr. M'Can, had been got over. Mr. Pitt had 
satisfied himself as to his own objection respect- 
ing Lord Westmoreland ; Lord Fitzwilliam was 
satisfied that he had full powers as to the Catholic 
question, and in a conference afterwards with 
Edmund Burke on the subject, he said to him, 
" / would not have taken office under you unless 
I knew that that was to be done" — namely, the 
concession of the Catholic question. On the 
whole of this transaction let posterity decide, and 
let them pronounce their verdict on the case of 
Ireland and the conduct of Mr. Pitt. 


21th October, 1794. 
My dear M'Can ; — Had I any thing to write, I 
should have written. At present, all I can say is, that 
nothing is determined at present. Mr. Pitt don't agree to 
those extensive powers which we were taught to believe 


the Duke of Portland had. However, I should not be 
surprised if it were settled well at last, and that Lord Fitz- 
william went over; nor yet would the contrary surprise 
me. This week will decide. 

Desire them not to write from Tinnehinch, for / hope to 
leave this on Monday, or Tuesday next. 

Yours most sincerely, 

H. Grattan. 

In reference to the " extensive powers" alluded 
to in this letter, Mr. Grattan wrote to Mr. Pitt, 
saying, that he conceived there was a mistake as 
to the immediate appointment of Lord Fitzwilliam, 
and to his powers in Ireland ; and he wished ex- 
tremely that the Duke of Portland and Mr. Pitt 
would have a conference upon the subject; the 
result of which was the removal of the difficulty, 
as appears from the subjoined letter. 


30th October, 1794. 

Dear Grattan ; — When the Duke of Portland re- 
ported to the Cabinet this morning my acceptance of the 
Lieutenancy of Ireland (the result of your decision) it 
met with a hearty approbation. / trust to the sincerity of 
it, and feel no diffidence of receiving an honourable support 
from this side the water. 

I write this from Lord Milton's, who is taking care of a 
gouty toe, to be the better able to undertake the duties of a 
Lord-lieutenant's secretary, which, complying with my 
request, he is to undertake ; but being confined to his 
drawing-room, is no impediment to a slight introduction 
to business. If you think of calling upon him to ask 
after his health, perhaps it might be not unadvisable to 
get Sir John Parnell to do as much. Conversation might 
turn upon subjects that necessarily they must hereafter 
frequently converse together upon. Believe me, with 
sincere esteem and regard, truly yours, 

Monday night. Wentworth Fitzwilliam. 

However, after this arrangement had been 
made with Lord Fitzwilliam, Mr. Pitt threw 
obstacles in the way ; — first, as regarded Lord 
Westmoreland and his friends ; then he added 
n 2 



[chap. VI. 

another— namely, delay. Various excuses were 
made for not swearing in Lord Fitzwilliam :— the 
King atone moment was said to be ill ; at another 
moment was at Weymouth, and could not come 
to London. The appointment not taking place, 
and Mr. Grattan being informed that some objec- 
tionable measures were in progress, he went to 
the Duke of Portland, and informed him of what 
he had heard. The Duke expressed his surprise, 
and stated that he knew nothing of such appoint- 
ments. While they were in conference an official 
box was brought in, and on opening it the list 
of the appointments (the jobs*) that Mr. Grattan 
complained of were there found. The Duke said 
to Mr. Grattan, " They are scandalous, but you 
may depend on it not one of those papers will ever 
see His Majesty." However, in a little time after, 
every one of the appointments appeared in the 
Gazette. Such was the honesty of Mr. Pitt's 
ministry !— such the faith observed towards Ire- 
land ! ! 

This circumstance must naturally have opened 
Mr. Grattan's eyes, and he began to fear that 
things were not likely to terminate so well as was 
expected ; and this it was that induced him to act 
afterwards with more promptitude and decision. 
In fact, the Duke of Portland was a weak man ; 
he certainly had done some good things in Ire- 
land, though with what exact view many men 
doubted ;f but he was really afraid of Mr. Pitt, 
and had not courage to put a direct question 
to him ; — thus the party were deceived, and Mr. 
Pitt's artful and insincere policy completely suc- 

* One of these appointments was that of Mr. Cooke, whose con- 
duct in 1798 and 1800, showed Mr. Grattan's foresight in making the 

f See the letters of Lord Shelburne to the Duke of Portland in 
reference to the question of a Union, Appendix to Vol. I. 




At length His Majesty came to London on the 
10th of December, to swear in Lord Fitzwilliam. 
Mr. Grattan attended his levee, and was well 
received. The King was very civil, and spoke to 
him so much, as to attract particular attention ; 
and the day after, Lord Loughborough waited 
upon him and complimented him on the reception 
he met with. Mr. Burke, who had gone to Court 
to thank His Majesty for his pension, called also 
on Mr. Grattan, and congratulated him on the 
prospect of success. He was in mourning, looked 
very ill, and was very melancholy — talked a good 
deal about the loss of his son — said " that the 
pension would be of very little use to him — that it 
came too late to contribute to his comfort, as he 
had lost the person for whom alone he would 
have desired it — he was sorry he had accepted it, 
but he was so pressed by the King that he could 
not refuse it." Both these individuals conceived 
that the question as to the Catholics was con- 
cluded, and, in fact, carried. 



Lord Fitz william arrives in Ireland, January, 1795 — Joy of the people 
—-Addresses from Protestants and Catholics — His reply — Speech to 
the Irish Parliament — Mr. Grattan moves the address to the King — 
Edmund Burke's remark — Mr. Grattan proposes a grant of 200,000/. 
to raise 40,000 seamen — Sir Lawrence Parsons as to the principles and 
intentions of the Whig party — Reduction in the national expenses — 
Mr. Grattan obtains leave to bring in the Catholic bill — Lord Fitzwil- 
liam is recalled — Sir Lawrence Parsons moves a short money bill — 
Alarming state of the country in consequence of Lord Fitzwilliam's 
recall — Vote of approbation of his conduct by the House of Commons 
— Private history of the intrigues of the Beresford party with Mr. Pitt — 
Proceedings as to Messrs. Beresford, Cooke, Wolfe, and Toler — Letters 
of Lord Fitzwilliam and the Duke of Portland, respecting Mr. Beres- 
ford — Treacherous conduct of Mr. Pitt — Fatal consequences — Mr. 
Grattan's opinion thereon — Letters of Mr. Forbes, Lord Lough- 
borough, and Mr. Burke — Proceedings in the British Parliament — 
Protest of Lords Ponsonby and Fitzwilliam — Letters of Lord Fitz- 
william and Lord Milton. 

On the 4th of January, 1795, Lord Fitzwilliam 
arrived in Ireland : he was received with joy by 
all classes of people, and addresses of congratu- 
lation were presented to him from the principal 
towns and counties throughout Ireland. The 
Protestant dissenters welcomed him as the friend 
of civil and religious liberty — the inheritor of the 
virtues of his illustrious relation, the late Marquis 
of Rockingham ; the Roman Catholics hailed him 
as the harbinger of peace, to whom was reserved 
the glory of completing the benevolent wishes of 
the father of his people for the union of all his 
subjects, and they prayed for the abolition of all 
religious distinctions. In his answers to these 
addresses, Lord Fitzwilliam stated the principle 
of his government, and what party was to uphold 
them, — so as to remove all doubts as to his inten- 



tions and instructions, and to satisfy the minds of 
the people. 

"From the submissive and peaceable conduct of the 
Catholics of Ireland, under the pressure of restrictions, 
which considerations of temporary policy, and circum- 
stances peculiar to some unhappy periods of civil dissen- 
sion, had imposed, there is every reason, at this day, to 
rely on them for firm fidelity and cordial allegiance. The 
language you now hold confirms this reasonable expecta- 
tion ; while the gratitude you^express to our beloved Sove- 
reign for his paternal care, to which you so loyally and 
justly ascribe the first openings of your emancipation, and 
the sentiments you entertain of the magnanimity of a liberal 
and enlightened Parliament, that rose superior to the preju- 
dices of ages, and displayed a cordial disposition to cease to 
discriminate between his Majesty's subjects, when every 
motive for that discrimination had ceased, must be highly 
satisfactory to every description of your fellow subjects. 
Such declarations, while they bear so visible a stamp of 
sincerity and truth, as your address discovers, must afford a 
pleasing earnest of the happy consequences that neces- 
sarily follow from mutual confidence and reciprocal trust 
among the inhabitants of the same empire, and manifest 
the wisdom of the measure that had led the way to that 
unity of sentiment and interest on which, as on their only 
solid basis, the strength and prosperity of nations rest. 

"In the faithful discharge of my duty to his Majesty, 
it shall be my study to call to my councils those who are dis- 
tinguished and known for their wisdom, their integrity, and 
their talents, and who possess the conjidence of his Majesty 1 s 
people. Assisted by their advice, and availing myself of 
their support, I trust that I shall be enabled to promote 
the first wishes of his Majesty's heart, by securing the full 
and cordial union of all his subjects , as the surest means of 
securing their happiness" 

These expressions were clear and intelligible, 
and could not have been mistaken by Mr. Pitt ; 
he was apprized of them long before the Irish 
Parliament assembled ; he knew their import and 
tendency, and he never objected to them in the 
slightest degree, or wrote to Lord Fitzwilliam on 
the subject. In fact, they were in strict accord- 

184 lord fitzwilliam's speech, [chap. VII. 

ance with the arrangement made by the respective 
parties in London (Mr. Pitt and the Duke of 
Portland, Lord Fitzwilliam and Mr. Grattan); but 
a more distinct intimation of their nature was 
given in about three weeks afterwards, when on 
the 22d of January the Irish Parliament assem- 
bled. The Viceroy on this occasion delivered a 
remarkable speech from the throne : he departed 
from the annual and hacknied commendation of 
those exclusive establishments (The Protestant 
Charter schools), and recommended to Parliament 
the consideration of the state of education in the 
kingdom. He declared — 

" That some parts admitted of improvement, others 
required new arrangements; that the advantages hitherto 
had been but partial, and as circumstances had made other 
considerations highly necessary, he hoped that Parliament 
would order every thing in the manner best adapted to the 
occasions of the several orders of men who composed his Ma- 
jesty's subjects in Ireland." 

Hopes were entertained that the education of 
the great mass of the people would be favourably 
attended to by Parliament; and as nothing had 
been done since the plan proposed by Mr. Orde, 
in the time of the Duke of Rutland (1787), that a 
system would at length be adopted which would 
embrace all classes of Irish. This important mea- 
sure, however, which had been mentioned by Mr. 
Burke in a preceding letter, fell very short of the 
wants of the people : it was not carried into effect 
as desired, and only led to the establishment of 
the Catholic College of Maynooth, for the purpose 
of preserving the clergy from the contagion of 
French principles. In alluding to the war with 
France, the speech reproached the false and 
spurious liberty of that country, as an ignominious 
servitude, extinguishing all good arts, and pre- 
senting nothing but impiety, crime, disorder, and 


ferocious manners. In calling on the Irish Par- 
liament to assist in that war, the Viceroy said, — 
" You must be duly sensible in such a crisis as the 
present, which rarely occurs in the course of human affairs, 
of the advantage of thus endeavouring to profit by the united 
strength and zeal of every description of his subjects. I have 
to assure you of his Majesty s most cheerful concurrence in 
every measure which the wisdom and comprehensive patriot- 
ism shall point out for this salutary purpose. On my part 
you shall find me, from principle and from inclination, 
thoroughly disposed to concur with his Majesty's paternal 
wishes, and icith the wise measures of his Parliament. On a 
cordial affection of the whole of Ireland, and on a conduct 
suitable to that sentiment, I wish to found my own per- 
sonal estimation and my reputation in the execution of the 
great trust committed by the most beneficent of sovereigns 
to my care." 

Mr. Grattan moved the address in answer to 
the speech, and following up the idea expressed 
by the Viceroy, observed — 

" To be attached to Great Britain is of no avail, unless 
you are also attached to one another ; external energy 
must arise from internal union, and, without that, your 
attachment to England, and your allegiance to the king, 
though extremely honourable, would be entirely useless. 

" His Majesty, therefore, in the second part of his 
speech, recommends national harmony; he bids perpetual 
peace to all your animosities ; he touches with the sceptre 
those troubled w r aters which have long shattered the weary 
bark of your country, under her various and false pilots for 
ages of insane persecution and impious theology. It is a 
continuation of that pious and profound recommendation 
which enlightened the speech of 1793, when the olive de- 
scended from the throne, on the experiment of that advice, 
and he congratulated the liberality of Parliament : he now 
spreads his parental w T ing over all his children, discerning 
with parental affection and a father's eye, in the variety of 
their features, the fidelity of their resemblance. He, there- 
fore, over-rules the jingling jargon which disgraces your 
understanding, and that poverty of pride which is vain of 
mutual degradation, and creates a real poverty of condition'; 
and he calls forth all the public and productive energies 
of all his people, neither resting his throne on the mo- 



nopoly of allegiance, no more than he rested your fortunes 
on the monopoly of commerce." 

Mr. Duquery proposed an amendment con- 
demning the war and the conduct of Mr. Pitt, in 
refusing to treat with the French government. This 
was rejected, and the address was agreed to. 

Mr. Grattan then presented the petition of the 
Roman Catholics of Dublin, praying for the re- 
moval of the restraints and penalties to which they 
were subject on account of their religion. 

These proceedings of the Irish Government and 
their chief supporter were not only known to 
Mr. Pitt and his party, but approved of by them ; 
and on the account reaching England, Mr. 
Burke, on the 29th of January, in a letter to Mr. 
William Smith, then a member of the Irish Par- 
liament, afterwards Baron of the Exchequer, 
says, " I congratulate you on the auspicious opening 
of your session. Surely Great Britain and Ireland 
ought to join in wreathing a never-fading garland 
for the head of Grattan."* 

Accordingly, on the 3rd of February, in full 
confidence that faith would be observed towards 
Ireland, and that the British minister would not 
recede from his agreement, Mr. Grattan moved 
that 200,000/. be granted for the purpose of rais- 
ing men for His Majesty's fleet ; and stated that 
his friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir 
John Parnell) would move in committee forty-one 
thousand men for the home defence, and as the 
revenue was now equal to the peace establishment, 
the taxes would be inconsiderable. The motion 
was agreed to without a division. On the 9th, 
Sir Lawrence Parsons enquired whether the prin- 
ciples professed by the members of the Govern- 
ment when out of power would be the ruling 
principles at present. Mr. Jephson said : — 

* Burke's Works, vol. ix. 



He rejoiced to see Lord Fitzwilliam in administration, 
and the persons by whom he was assisted ; they were 
the only persons who projected between the two countries a 
connection which would be honourable, just, or permanent. 
These were the men who, in 1782, secured the emancipation of 
Ireland, and under every discouragement since, had adhered 
to their professions. Since 1782, the tried friends of Ire- 
land had been excluded from power ; the patronage of the 
Crown most wantonly employed in the house, not to sup- 
port the empire, but to oppose the people. Necessitous 
and intolerant individuals had been advanced to direct 
the public affairs on the principle of " divide et impera," and 
hence it tvas that Ireland had been a scene of distress and 
embarrassment. Through rancour of persecution, and excess 
of insult, men have been alienated from the throne ; but 
this contagion had not spread far, and the errors of the 
preceding, would, he was confident, be remedied by the 
wisdom of the present administration. 

Mr. Duquery declared he thought it right, before he 
voted the money of the people, that he should know what 
the people were to get. 

Mr. Grattan declared that the same principles which he 
and his friends professed when in opposition, continued to 
govern their conduct now ; — that they would try to give 
them effect ; — and accordingly they reduced the Pension 
list 44,000/., and the Concordatum list 22,000/. ; —they 
proposed a reduction in the collection of the revenue — an 
encouragement of the breweries — a restraint on the use of 
spirituous liquors, and a substitution of a wholesome 
beverage for the people. 

Meantime the Roman Catholics were not inac- 
tive : — from all quarters of the nation — from the 
chief cities, towns, and counties, petitions were 
presented to the House of Commons praying for 
the repeal of all restrictive laws ; and none of 
moment were presented from the Protestants 
against them ;* and on the 12th of February, 
three weeks after the meeting of Parliament, Mr. 
Grattan obtained leave to bring in a bill for their 
relief — three members only dissenting. 

Government next proceeded with the new taxes, 
and the reformation of the police ; and Mr. Grat- 

* One was presented from the Corporation of Dublin. 



tan obtained leave to bring in a bill for the latter 
purpose. The reform of the representation, and 
the repeal of the Convention Bill, were among 
other measures eagerly looked for by the people ; 
but when the redress of grievances was expected, 
and about to be demanded, the recall of Lord 
Fitzwilliam began to be rumoured, and on the 
2nd of March, when the report from the Com- 
mittee of Supply was brought up, Sir Lawrence 
Parsons proposed that the words in the Money 
Bill, " the 25th of March, 1796," be expunged, and 
the words, " the 25th of May, 1795," be inserted. 

He stated that the grant of supplies and the redress of 
grievances should go hand-in-hand. The only security 
the country had, was a short Money Bill ; it had been 
tried in 1779 ; it had been tried in 1789 ; and, in both 
instances, had been of utility. The people had been led 
to expect great measures ; their hopes had been raised, 
and now were about to be blasted. If the Cabinet of 
Great Britain had held out an assent to the Catholic ques- 
tion, and had afterwards retracted, it was an insult to the 
nation, which the House should resent. There had been 
no meetings ; no petitions of the Protestants against the 
claims of the Catholics. It would thence be inferred that 
their sentiments were not adverse to the emancipation ; this 
was held out as the leading measure of administration ; 
the Responsibility Bill was another ; the Reform Bill was 
another. In consideration of these measures, additional 
taxes had been voted to the amount of 250,000/. ; but 
now it appeared that the country had been duped — that 
nothing was to be done for the people. If the British 
minister persisted in such infatuation, discontent would be 
at its height, the army must be increased, and every man must 
have dragoons in his house. 

The motion was rejected by 146 to 24. Mr. 
Conolly then proposed three resolutions : — 

"That Lord Fitzwilliam, by his public conduct since 
his arrival in Ireland, deserved the thanks of the House 
and the confidence of the people.*' 

* At the instance of the Chancellor and the Bishop of Ossory, the 
Lords altered a similar motion of the Duke of Leinster, to " The confi- 
dence and thanks of this House" 


" That to prorogue Parliament before the grievances 
which the people complained of were redressed, would be 
highly inexpedient. 

" That these resolutions be laid before His Majesty." 

Mr. Conolly withdrew the two last, at the in- 
stance of the Government party ; the first passed 
unanimously, and the Speaker, attended by the 
entire House, waited upon the Lord-lieutenant 
with their vote, who replied with expressions of 
satisfaction at finding he was entitled to the con- 
fidence of the people; but on the 24th of March 
he was recalled from the government of Ireland. 

Never in the history of any nation can there be 
found such duplicity — such treachery, and such 
baseness as was practised towards the people of 
Ireland. The proceedings of this eventful crisis 
appear in Lord Fitzwilliam's letters ; and, with 
those here published, they develope the intrigues 
and unworthy arts that were but too successfully 
resorted to. Before Lord Fitzwilliam's departure 
from London, he had settled the outline of his 
administration. The question of relieving the 
Catholics from every remaining disqualification 
had been discussed by the Duke of Portland and 
the British cabinet, with Mr. Pitt at their head, 
and they were strongly impressed with a convic- 
tion that the work ought to be completed. 
Lord Fitzwilliam expressly says, in his letters* 
to Lord Carlisle, what he had in private said to 
Mr. Burke, " that had he found it otherwise, he 
would never have undertaken the Government ;" the 
only thing he consented to do was not to bring- 
forward the question on his part ; but that if the 
Catholics were determined to bring it before Par- 
liament, he would give it a handsome support. 

On his arrival in Ireland he found that an im- 
mediate consideration of the question must take 

* They appeared under the title, " Letters to a Venerated Nobleman." 


mr. pitt's duplicity. [chap. vii. 

place ; and on the 8th of January he wrote to the 
Secretary of State (the Duke of Portland), in- 
forming him that the question would be brought 
on — that the principal persons in Ireland were of 
opinion, that if the measure could not be post- 
poned, it ought not to be resisted, and that con- 
cession was necessary for the public tranquillity . 

Lord Fitzwilliam then applied himself not 
only to collect information from the Catholic com- 
mittee, but from the noblemen and principal 
Catholic gentlemen termed Seceders, of whom 
mention has been made in the second chapter. 
They were unanimous in opinion as to this 
object, and stated their determination never to 
lose sight of it. Accordingly, on the 15th of 
January, he wrote to the Duke of Portland, de- 
claring — 

" That he should not do his duty if he did not distinctly 
state it as his opinion, that not to grant cheerfully on the part 
of Government all the Catholics wished for, would not only 
be exceedingly impolitic, but, perhaps, dangerous ; that in 
doing this, no time was to be lost ; that the business would 
be presently at hand, and that the first step he took would be 
of infinite importance : that if he received no very peremp- 
tory instructions to the contrary, he should acquiesce — he 
meant, as well in the time as in the mode of proceeding, and 
the extent of the demands; for as a measure considered gene- 
rally, 1 would conceive no necessity of waiting for any new 
instructions, or how to decide" 

This took place about a fortnight after Lord 
Fitzwilliam's arrival, and before the meeting of 
the Irish Parliament ; so that Mr. Pitt knew that 
the question was in agitation, and that petitions 
had been determined upon by the Catholics ; he 
knew the extent of their demands — that the 
question could not be kept back, and that if the 
Lord-lieutenant was not informed to the con- 
trary, he would act on the spirit of the arrange- 
ment which he had made in London. 



This was the time for the ministers to come for- 
ward and object to the question if they really- 
entertained the opinion which they subsequently 
professed, — namely, " that it led to consequences 
ivh ich could not be contemplated without horror and 
dismay." But not a word of the kind escaped 
them. Lord Fitzwilliam received many letters 
from the Duke of Portland, and no hint even was 
thrown out against the Catholic question ; and in 
the letter of the Duke of Portland on the 13th of 
January, after the receipt of Lord Fitzwilliam's 
letter on the 8th, no objection whatever was made 
to the Catholic question ; and in it the Duke 
signified the King's assent to Mr. Wolfe's peerage, 
which was part of the arrangement for his retire- 
ment from the office of Attorney-general, to make 
way for Mr. George Ponsonby. On the 2nd of 
February Lord Fitzwilliam wrote again to the 
Duke of Portland, and the Duke was again 
silent ; nor did he mention a word of disappro- 
bation at the projected dismissal of Mr. Beresford, 
which was mentioned in Lord Fitzwilliam's letter 
of the month previous ; and it was only on the 9th 
of February that Mr. Pitt wrote to Lord Fitz- 
william, expostulating on the dismissal of Mr. 
Beresford, and on the negotiations respecting Mr. 
Wolfe and Mr. Toler; although the King had on 
the 13th of January, actually consented to Mr. 
Wolfe's elevation to the peerage, which was part of 
the arrangement, and in that letter Mr. Pitt said 
nothing about the Catholic question. 

The individuals who complained loudest, and 
intrigued most, were Mr. Beresford and Mr. 
Cooke. In Lord Carlisle's time they were clerks, 
but in Lord Fitzwilliam's they were ministers. 
The tone and style of Mr. Cooke rendered him 
insupportable to Lord Fitzwilliam ; and the in- 
fluence which he and Mr. Beresford had at the 


Castle, furnished just grounds of complaint. 
With respect to the Attorney-general (Wolfe), 
and the Solicitor-general (Toler), the former was 
to have a peerage, and a reversion to him and his 
son of 2,300/. a-year, with an assurance that he 
would fill the first vacancy of the chief seat on 
the bench. Mr. Toler was also to be provided 
for. The chief point, however, regarded Mr. 
Beresford, whose influence was so considerable 
in the country. With respect to him, Lord Fitz- 
william was to allow him his full income, and not 
to interfere with the emoluments of the rest of his 
family ; and Mr. Cooke was to have had a 
retiring salary of 1,200/. a-year. The objections 
to these individuals had been made in person by 
Lord Fitzwilliam to Mr. Pitt, when Mr. Grattan 
was in London. Mr. Pitt did not oppose his 
removal, or say a single word in favour of Mr. 
Beresford ; and Lord Fitzwilliam, after his ar- 
rival, reminded Mr. Pitt, by letter, of this circum- 
stance. But it was not until the Irish Parlia- 
ment had submitted to heavy burthens, not only 
by providing for the security of the kingdom by 
great military establishments, but likewise by 
assisting the empire at large, in the moment of 
its greatest distress, by aids great and unpa- 
ralleled, beyond all example ; it was not till 
Lord Fitzwilliam's popularity had induced the 
House of Commons, on the faith of popular ques- 
tions, to grant the largest supply ever demanded, 
and a larger army than had ever before been 
voted in Ireland ; it was not till he had laid a 
foundation for increasing the established force of 
the country, and procured a vote of 200,000/. for 
the general defence of the empire, and 20,000 
men for the navy, and a supply to the amount of 
1,800,000/. that the British cabinet proceeded to 
notice and reply to Lord Fitzwilliam's letters. 




Then, for the first time, the dismissal of Mr. 
Cooke and Mr. Beresford was complained of, and 
made a charge against Lord Fitzwilliam ; then, 
and not till then, commenced the accusations 
against him as to the Catholic question, and his 
imputed design to overturn the constitution in 
church and state. But a reference to the pro- 
ceedings on this subject, will show the futility of 
this charge, and that it was a mere pretext. Let 
it be recollected, that this question, though op- 
posed in 1793 by Lord Westmoreland and his 
friends, had been supported by Mr. Hobart (the 
Irish Secretary), and the British Cabinet ; that 
Mr. Pitt and Mr. Dundas (Lord Melville), had 
given it their support ; that they had communi- 
cated their intentions to the Catholic agents in 
London, and their expressions (well remembered, 
and often quoted) were, that "they would not risk 
a rebellion in Ireland on such a question,"* yet 
the very man who had actually agreed to it, in 
conference with Mr. Grattan and Lord Fitz- 
william, and to the former of whom he had used 
these very remarkable words, — " I have taken office, 
and I have done so because I knew there was to be an 
entire change of system" — this Duke of Portland, in 
his letter to Lord Fitzwilliam, says that " to 
defer the Catholic question was not only a tiling 
to be desired for the present, but the means of doing 
a greater service to the British empire than it has 
been capable of receiving since the revolution, or at 
least since the Union" 

On the receipt of this letter, Lord Fitzwilliam 
immediately acted with a spirit and resolution 
worthy of him. He wrote to Mr. Pitt, defended 
the dismissal of Mr. Beresford, as necessary to 
the efficacy of his government, and left the minis- 

* The Duke of Wellington said something like this in 1829, when 
the Catholic bill was passed. 


194 duke of Portland's sentiments, [chap.vii. 

ter to chose between him and Mr. Beresford. He 
wrote the same night to the Duke of Portland, 
stating his surprise at their resisting a question 
that had been long since agreed upon, and this at 
the expiration of such an interval of time ; namely, 
from the 8th of January, when he first wrote about 
the Catholic question, to the 8th of February, 
when it was first objected to by the English 
ministers. He stated the danger of hesitation or 
resistance, and he refused to be the person to raise a 
flame in the country, that nothing short of arms 
could keep down; and left him to determine whether, 
if he was not to be supported, he ought not to be 

On the 16th of February the Duke of Portland 
wrote a private letter to LordFitzwilliam, saying that 

t( Although it would be attended with great advantages 
to defer the consideration of the Catholic question till 
peace was established, yet that it was going too far to 
infer from any thing he said, that Lord Fitzwilliam was 
desired to undertake the task of deferring it till that period ; 
and that if the Cabinet were to accede, what they desired 
was, to be justified in that accession by a free investigation 
of facts, circumstances, and opinions; and as it was still 
within Lord Fitzwilliam's reach to have the bill modified 
before it was introduced, and before the plan was known 
to the Catholics, he wished to have this plan and the heads 
of the bill transmitted for consideration." 

Now it happened that, at the time the Duke 
wrote that letter, Mr. Pitt was in possession of 
all the facts ; for Mr. Grattan, who managed the 
bill, had communicated the heads of it to the 
Lord-lieutenant, and every thing which regarded 
the constitution, the ecclesiastical establishments, 
and the settlement of property — all these had 
been communicated, together with the Primate's 
opinion upon them to the Duke of Portland, before 
Mr, Grattan got leave to bring in the bill* Yet, 

* By this bill, Roman Catholics were eligible to the office of Lord 
High-Chancellor — from which the act of 1829 excludes them. 



after this, the Duke of Portland assisted at 
the Cabinet meeting of the ]9th of March, where 
it was unanimously determined to recall Lord 
Fitzwilliam " as a measure necessary for the preser- 
vation of the empire /" 

The truth was, that the dismissal of the Beres- 
ford party was the real cause of Lord Fitzwilliam's 
removal.* That "clique" as Mr. Burke called 
them, whose influence in the Government of Ire- 
land had been paramount and excessive, afraid 
of losing power, proceeded to London, — misrepre- 
sented the state of Ireland, — exerted every effort 
against Lord Fitzwilliam, — reported to the King 
that the concession of the Catholic question would 
injure the Protestant religion, — worked success- 
fully upon his fears, and infused into his breast 
the worst prejudices against his Irish subjects. 
In fact, religion had nothing to say to the ques- 
tion, — it was a mere pretence. The cry that the 
church was in danger, was an after -thought, and 

was found a convenient and apt means to serve * 
the purposes of a party, and restore a fallen 
faction. The intrigues of the Beresfords suc- 
ceeded. Mr. Pitt abandoned his principles, his 
promises, and his professions. He first deceived, 
then recalled Lord Fitzwilliam^ and committed the 
basest breach of public faith that had occurred since | 
the days- of Lord Strafford, and not very dissimilar I 
from it. By so doing he gave the country over to 
the United Irishmen, and prepared the way for the! 
Insurrection and the Union. His measures were\ 
fatal for British character, and the Irish peoples 
henceforth lost all confidence in the British Govern- 

Such is the history of Mr. Pitt's conduct to- 

* Mr. Giflford, in his life of Pitt, says Lord Fitzwilliam immediately 
removed Lord Fitzgibbon from the office of Lord Chancellor. — He is 
wholly mistaken ; no removal took place, and Mr. Giflford here again 
shows his want of information, and his mis-statements as to Irish affairs. 

o 2 


wards Ireland, — one that Mr. Grattan never 
ceased to deplore, and respecting which he never 
entertained a second opinion. The letters here 
subjoined throw additional light on these transac- 
tions. The one from Mr. Forbes contains a pas- 
sage singularly prophetic. Lord Loughborough's 
statement discloses the case as to Mr. Beresford ; 
and those from Mr. Burke, and from (that noble 
and honourable-minded man) Lord Fitzwilliam, 
will be read with interest and emotion. Pity that 
such generous sentiments should have been disre- 
garded ! — Pity that a brave and virtuous people 
should have been so maltreated ! 


Dublin, Feb. 25, 1795. 
Dear Adair, — This will be delivered to you by Mr. 
M'Can, a very confidential agent of our party for many 
years, and a particular friend of Grattan's and mine. He 
can afford you much information ; he goes over to obtain, 
on the recommendation of the Lord-lieutenant, the situa- 
tion of the printer of the Gazette.* You will oblige us 
much by urging Baldwin and King, the under secretaries, 
to dispatch through their office the king's letter for M'Can ; 
have the goodness to give Mr. M'Can an order for admis- 
sion to the House of Commons at times. As you conjec- 
tured, the administration of our friend is rather embar- 
rassing. I fear that Pitt does not act fair by him, and that 
our friends in your cabinet do not support their friends here 
with vigour. Certain persons are not accustomed to busi- 
ness, which causes much hesitation and diffidence in 
almost every subject. What is to be done on the subject 
of the war ? Wonderful feebleness in Great Britain ! We 
expect the French here next summer, yet are not pre- 
pared. Rest assured that a descent of a few thousand 
Frenchmen in this kingdom will prove a most disastrous 

* He did not get the place ; but some months after was appointed to 
the laborious office of tide-waiter at the Custom-house, and in 1806, the 
place was given, under the Duke of Bedford's administration, to a foe. 
The policy of rewarding enemies has ever proved fatal to the Whig- 


event. Remember me to Mr. Adair, Lady Wilson, and 
your son, and believe me, dear Adair, yours very sincerely, 

J. Forbes. 

P.S. — I open this letter to mention to you the necessity of 
the English Government acceding to the proposition from the 
Irish cabinet relative to the complete emancipation of the Irish 
Catholics. It is reported that Pitt intends to overturn the 
Irish cabinet by rejecting Catholic claims. Should he pur- 
sue that line, England will be involved in inextricable con fu- 

Ireland ! ! ! 


Feb. 1795. 

My Dear Sir, — I received your letter only yesterday, 
which seems later than, by the date of the 17th, it might 
have reached me. No press of business could prevent me 
taking the earliest opportunity of answering it, both from 
the motive of the strongest regard towards you, and the 
importance of the matter. From the time that I was for- 
tunate enough, with your very powerful assistance, to bring 
our friends to meet together on the very clear explanation, 
settled between us, and Mr. Burke, I never attended any 
of the conversations on the detail of business, but I had 
the satisfaction to think, from the appearance of confi- 
dence re-established, which 1 had frequent opportunities 
of remarking, that nothing was left unexplained and unsettled 
at the time of the Lord-1/eutenant's departure. 

I have since been obliged to hear, with great regret, 
many things which make me doubt whether the particular 
discussion had been as ample as I hoped. The first ac- 
count I had of the particular subject of your letter, was 
from a friend of Mr. Beresford. The manner in which he 
represented that business to have passed was this : — That 
Mr. B., without any previous communication to himself, 
or any of his friends, received an abrupt message to inform 
him that he was to be removed, because the power of him- 
self and his family was so great as to be formidable to the 
Lord-lieutenant; that he should be allowed, however, to 
retain a pension to the amount of his salarv, and his 
friends to keep their places ; that this message was fol- 
lowed by a letter of dismission from Lord Milton, without 
the least reference to any arrangement, or concert with the 
minister on whom his office immediately depended, and 
from whom he felt himself entitled to claim protection. 


The same information added that Mr. B. was not in the 
least disposed to struggle for the continuance of his office ; 
and had he been treated with a little more consideration, 
would not have given, nor was he now inclined to give, 
any obstruction to a fair arrangement. The latter part of 
this representation I have reason to believe perfectly true ; 
the first part, of which I have only traced the outline, 
without the colouring by which it was heightened, stag- 
gers my faith, because it is very unlike the habit of Lord 
Fitzwilliam's mind, who could not wish to insult a man 
whose power he only meant to lessen, and so very inconsistent 
with the tenor of that note of our conversation to which I 
have alluded. To remove, without a previous concert of 
the terms and mode of the removal, a person in high office, 
would not have expressed that attention to Mr. Pitt's 
situation, which is so plainly acknowledged ; and sup- 
posing him merely the first commissioner of the treasury, 
without the influence usually attached to that office, to 
have dismissed an officer in his department, by a letter 
from the Lord-lieutenant's secretary, would not have been 
agreeable to that respect which ministers owe to each other. 

The Administration here (in which there has not dis- 
covered itself the least appearance of Schism) is not, I am 
persuaded, in any part of it disposed to support discontent 
in Ireland, or lend an ear to complaints of supposed 
grievances ; but they must support the general order of 
Government, and I think they will be unanimous in that 
object; wishing at the same time ardently every fair ac- 
commodation, and deprecating every hasty measure, they 
do not expect that your friends should (because they do 
not think they ought) support any family Government that 
could be created or restored in Ireland. It is necessary, 
however, for the mutual credit of both Administrations 
(especially under the pressure of such difficulties as affect 
all equally) to proceed " suaviter in modoJ y and with great 
attention to the character of each for steady, just, and 
temperate measures. 

Depend upon it, that no personal considerations can con- 
tinue to divide us, if they are not urged on by an hasty 
and overbearing spirit. If any candid person had come 
over from your side, he might have settled all this matter, 
and I hope still may. We know and highly prize the 
value of your support, which shewed itself so greatly in 
the last session ; we also feel the high duty that the pub- 



lie danger imposes on all men, to act on large principles, 
disregarding the play of private interest or of prejudice. 

But you must allow us a fair scope, both for deliberation 
and action, otherwise we should not deserve your esteem, 
nor with it that friendship which I hope and trust will 
ever remain most entire between you and, my dear sir, 
Yours most faithfully, Loughborough. 


Tuesday, March 3rd, 1795. 

My dear Sir, — Though I have heard much of you, 
until this day, I have heard nothing at all from you since 
you left us at Beaconsfield, after the consolatory day 
which you and Mrs. Grattan were pleased to bestow upon 
us, in our house of mourning. For my part, 1 did not 
choose to interrupt you in the course of the glorious, and 
ever memorable services you were rendering to the Crown, 
to your country, to the British empire, and to the con- 
tracted remains of the Christian world. I had at length, 
however, I know not how properly, resolved to break 
silence. In truth, I feel as much joy as my poor broken 
heart is capable of receiving, from the manner in which the 
Irish session has opened. 1 could not help contrasting it 
with the appearances here. Opposition to the Crown, 
with you, was not only weakened, but extinguished. The 
degenerate, or the treacherous cry of peace with France, 
which was the subject of so many repeated, and power- 
fully supported motions here, with you was not heard in 
either House of Parliament. The petitions so much 
intrigued with us, and in many places with success, did 
not dare to crawl out from any hole or corner of Ireland. 
Whilst so many in England were rushing into the arms of 
France, Ireland resolved to live and die with Great Bri- 
tain. To crown all, more troops were raised, and greater 
sums icere voted to the King's service than before was ever 
known; it was in the hope of this I wished, and, as you 
know, laboured, according to my poor measure, that such 
a union in all parts of administration might take place, 
as should put it in your power to do these services ; and 
real/y thought even/thing was settled. The effect far ex- 
ceeded my expectations. I am sure that the peace cry 
was stopped here, by its being stopped in Ireland. 

Guess at my shame and humiliation, when I find 
myself the innocent means of putting you in danger of 
losing the whole of the importance by which you were 



enabled to do these things, and by which you would 
be enabled to continue them, until the very idea of Ja- 
cobinism was eradicated from every part of this empire. 
I beg your pardon a thousand times, if I have been the 
means of the triumph of the intrigues of Ireland over your 
manly virtues. I am told that they already cry, victory ! 
They say that no evil can happen from the disgrace of the 
Lord-lieutenant, and from your being set aside ; that by 
what you have done, you have disarmed your opposition ; 
that they have you fast ; and that they have nothing now 
but to enter quietly into their old possessions, and to 
enjoy the fruits of your labours. If I have been the 
means of taunting and insulting you in this manner, and 
of discouraging all men of honourable characters and 
independent situations from acting hereafter the part that 
you have acted, I take a shame to myself, not lessened 
by the goodness of my intentions; for I ought not to have 
meddled. The malignant part of the opposition, who pre- 
dicted this very thing, and whose joy upon it knows no 
bounds, judged better by the event than I did. This day, 
I hear from all parts, is to them a real day of jubilee. I 
am lost and confounded ; I have humbly submitted my 
sentiments ; I have nothing, but to take refuge in oblivion, 
until I take refuge in the grave. As to you, you are 
a man, a man of honour and of wisdom ; you will know 
what to do. I am most incapable of offering my advice, in 
a case like this. Some things occur to me, but having 
so often failed already, it is fit that I should make no 
further attempts. Certainly there is something not short 
of madness abroad. It is much fitter for me to suppose 
myself to be under its influence, than to conceive it affects 
so many reputed to be wise, and who certainly ought to 
be so. 

I am now to tell you what is objected to you, as 
separated from the matters of arrangement, which are 
more justly put — as, of course, they ought to be — to the 
account of Lord Fitzwilliam. It is said, that in your 
situation (which, though independent of, is not uncon- 
nected with Government, in whose Parliamentary business 
you substantially take the lead) you ought to have com- 
municated your intentions, with regard to the Catholics, 
to the administration here, # that they might take the 

* This report, so industriously circulated, was quite unfounded, for 
Mr. Grattan had communicated the heads of the bill and all matters 


matter seriously into their consideration, and, in a mea- 
sure of such importance, to consider to what extent any 
thing to be done in their favour ought to go. They complain 
that this was not done on your part. It is further said, 
that supposing you had not formed any distinct scheme 
upon the subject, and waited to confer further with the 
parties concerned in Ireland, you ought to have deferred 
the motion for leave to bring in the bill, until the sub- 
stance of the proposition was forwarded hither, and the 
sense of the King's servants taken, whether it would be 
right to give it the countenance of the Court. I do not 
find, that as to the substance of the very large concession 
towards that body, that the Ministers are come to any posi- 
tive resolution against it ; but they say, that it is fair that 
it should be laid before them : and those who, though not 
Ministers, are zealous in their support, say that you have 
treated them as ill as possible, in not having, through the 
Lord-lieutenant, made this communication. It is com- 
plained, that even at this hour, they have not a copy of 
the intended bill — that by this means they cannot exercise 
their judgment, so as to obtain any sort of credit with the 
Catholics towards the Government, to which it is pro- 
posed to attach them by benefits, by any concession that 
can be made ; but that the hesitation, which must ever 
belong to men when they deliberate, will be given, as a 
proof of an ill disposition towards that body, which does 
not exist. This is what is said. What observations I 
have made upon these matters of objection, is of no weight 
with you. I could only speak from rational conjecture, 
and what would be my probable motives for acting as you 
have done, in the situation in which you are. 

Thus far I wrote last night. Your letter did not come 
to my house until the post had gone away. Since I 
received it, I have seen four of the Cabinet Ministers, and 
have laid the matter before them, in the fullest manner 
that the time would permit. I dare not give you any 
clear hope of an amicable settlement ; but I do not give 
it up as impracticable. The Duke of Portland has been 
ill for some days; the complaint is an erysipelas ; but I 
plainly perceive that this very business sinks his heart, 
and is preying on his vitals. 1 declined to give an advice, 
but I have no scruple, after much consideration in a 

relating to it to Lord Fitzwilliam, before he moved for leave to bring it 
in, and these were forwarded to the minister in England. 



[chap. VII. 

sleepless night, to say that Lord Fitzwilliam, neither in 
honour, nor in prudence, public or private, can at this 
moment think of quitting Ireland. I am clear about it ; 
and by next post, that is, to-morrow, please God, I shall 
state my reasons somewhat more fully ; but move heaven 
and earth against a sudden step. Let no part of the mischief 
be attributed to that, I say this without any reference at all 
to anger, fear, or hope, hut imperious duty and inflexible 
principle demand it. Adieu for to-day — and God send us 
other times. Yours ever, most devotedly, 

Edmund Burke. 


March 5th, 1795. 
My Dear Sir, — I cannot get the letter # I proposed to 
send with this copied time enough for the post, which 
waits at the door. My mind is in a state of too much 
distress to permit me to write to you very much at large ; 
it has not, however, hindered me from submitting my 
thoughts and my observations on your letter, to such of 
the people in power here as I have been able to see. With 
one of the principal of them 1 spent two hours yesterday, 
and two hours the day before. I was admitted with 
facility, and heard with great temper, and I may say with 
great indulgence, but with what effect I know not. I 
have reason to apprehend that the general state of things 
is not yet materially altered ; they are in a most un- 
pleasant way, and must remain so, whilst a certain family 
CABALf are in the sole possession of the ear of Government, as 
long as it is believed that they, and they alone, are faithfully 
attached to the interests of the Crown, and the only proper 
representatives of English Government; and that all others 
are selfish and violent persons, either seeking their own 
gratifications at the expense of the public peace, or hunt- 
ing, at any hazard, after wild popularity. As long as it 
is believed that things would have gone on perfectly well 
in the old hands, and that an attempt to widen the bottom 
of Government by displacing those who were best dis- 
posed, and most able to save it, for the purpose of pro- 
curing unanimity, by taking in the most considerable of 
those who were discontented with that Government, was 
the cause of all the divisions and distractions which 

* This letter could not be procured, 
f The Beresford and Clare faction. 





agitate Ireland, and all the evils which may hereafter 
arise from them. These ideas, together with an opinion 
which I am afraid is never to be removed from the mind of 
Mr. Pitt, that Lord Fitzwilliam has removed these people 
from a desire in their persons of maltreating him, are 
industriously circulated. God knows how deeply these 
things may sink into their hearts; but no means are omitted 
by the clique to inculcate them by day and by night, and 
not only to state them to Ministers, but to spread them in 
every circle in (his town. Jt is greatly to be lamented for 
the public oood (for Lord Fitzwilliam is far out of the 
reach of obloquy, and so are you), that no confidential 
and well-instructed person was sent hither to counteract, 
in their very beginning, the representations of this detes- 
table but too well concerted c^jla l. I am vexed 
too, that when Windham, who (whether right or wrong 
in some of the matter of dispute I care not) did everything 
that man could do to heal the breach, had written to 
Lord Fitzwilliam, his answer had been so very cold and 
repulsive. I know personally, that if there is an irrepa- 
rable breach, it is no fault of his ; he brought me the first 
news of it, and consulted me on the means of a remedy. 
There never was a more exalted mind than that of Lord 
Fitzwilliam, — exalted are irritable minds. Prostrate me 
as a suppliant at his feet, and beseech him to abate his 
just feelings, in which I most completely sympathise with 
him. If he be not gone, implore him to stay. Time 
itself is a mighty healer where passions are concerned — 
tempus inane peto, requiem. 

I send you a copy of a letter which I had back from Mr. 
Elliot to-day, which I wrote to him hastily, under the 
impression of my first feelings: it is the brief infinitely 
enlarged, from whence, together with your letter, I spoke 
when I came to town. I had a share in the coalition (in 
the disposition to it, not in the arrangement). I had a 
share (with you, and under you) in keeping it together, 
when it was likely to break to pieces, undone as I am in 
mind and body. Please God, whilst one link hangs to 
another, I will not be untrue to you. In my judgment, the 
monarchy is as much obliged to you at least, as to any subject 
the King has, and as long as I think the monarchy the stable 
support of our lives, our liberties, and our properties, so long 
shall I honour and love you; and will directly and straight- 
forward obey you in any task you shall impose upon me. I 



know not how it was, but your letter was a long time on its 
road hither — I suppose the post-office of Dublin is not very- 
faithful ; if it be, it has belied the old opinion entertained 
of it; but for my own part, I am little afraid of it, except 
in suppressing the letters. Have you got one from me, 
written since I came to London ? 

I have no doubt the Catholic business will be done. 
I have already told you, that, so far as I could discover, 
the substance of the thing was not much disrelished by 
Government ; but the great ground of certainty is, that 
every rational creature must be convinced that it must be 
done. What the Irish clique propose, is some credit here, 
for opposing a measure which might seem to endanger the 
Church, and then to have the credit with the nation at 
large of granting it ; and from both these contradictory 
operations, to derive security to their own jobbish power : 
this is the first and the last in the piece. The Catholic 
question is a mere pretence. Pray get an account of all the 
debates in which the clique resisted your motions, then 
stole them from you, and brought them out in a new shape, 
all their speeches in both houses on the Catholic business 
in the two sessions ; and pray get the full report and all the 
evidence about the Charter schools, and send it to me. 
Remember me to Mr. Hardy ; I will answer his two last 
letters to-morrow. I have received all of them. 

Ever, ever yours, 

Edmund Burke. 

The proceedings, as regarded Lord Fitzwilliam, 
may be terminated here. On his arrival in Lon- 
don, he brought the subject of his recall before 
the House of Lords, complaining of the treatment 
he had received, and demanding an enquiry. The 
minister declined the offer ; on which the Duke of 
Norfolk moved on the 8th of May for all copies of 
correspondence between the Government and the 
late Lord-lieutenant. The question was debated 
with much zeal by Lords Fitzwilliam,* Moira, 

* In the letters of Lord Fitzwilliam to Lord Carlisle, the words 
" imputed malversations" were attributed to Mr. Beresford. ^The], latter 
sent Mr. Montgomery to Lord Fitzwilliam to demand an explanation. 
Lord Fitzwilliam declined to give any. Accordingly a message was 
delivered. Lord Townsend was to have been second to Mr. Beresford; 



Leeds, and Guildford, and opposed by Lords Mans- 
field, Coventry, Carnarvon, Westmoreland, Towns- 
end, and Grenville, who asserted that it was the 
inherent prerogative of the Crown to remove all 
public officers, and that his Majesty was not 
called on to assign any reasons. Lord Westmore- 
land declared that the concession of the Catholic 
question was contrary to the spirit of the Consti- 
tution and the Revolution, and that the coronation 
oath was a bar that could not be got over. He 
admitted that he had taken the part of Mr. Beres- 
ford, and exerted himself against Lord Fitzwilliam 
to the utmost of his power. Lord Fitzwilliam 
asserted unequivocally, that he was fully autho- 
rised to complete the work of 1793, namely, 
Catholic emancipation. He challenged contradic- 
tion on this point, and added, emphatically, "for 
having connected myself with Mr. Grattan, I am 
dismissed ; for it was obviously on that account 
chiefly that I incurred the hostility of the English 
minister!!" The motion was rejected by 100 to 
25. A spirited protest was entered on the jour- 
nals by Lords Ponsonby and Fitzwilliam ; it de- 
tails the entire proceeding of the Government. 
The sixth and fifteenth reasons assigned are so re- 
markable, that they are worthy of being introduced. 

Dissentient : 6th. Because it appeared in the course of 
the debate, without any attempt to contradict it, that the 
Earl aforesaid (Fitzwilliam), did actively and effectually 
promote the service of the Crown, and the public interest 
in Ireland, by encouraging through all fitting means, and 
discouraging by none, the zeal and affection to his Ma- 
jesty of his Parliament of Ireland ; by obtaining without 
delay, and with great unanimity, a vote of more than forty 
thousand men, by which the internal force of that king- 
but his house was so closely watched, that he was afraid to stir. Lord 
Moira was second to Lord Fitzwilliam. The parties met near Kensing- 
ton, when a peace officer entered the ground and stopped all further 



dom was more than doubled ; and by obtaining also a vote 
of two hundred thousand pounds for the better manning the 
navy of Great Britain — the first vote of the kind in the 
present war, and double, to the sole example of the supply of 
the same kind, voted in the Irish Parliament in the year 
1782, as an acknowledgment of the vast and important con- 
cessions in legislation, commerce, and judicature^ then made 
by the Parliament of Great Britain ; both these supplies for 
the service of Great Britain were moved by Mr. Grattan ; 


to Earl Fitzwilliam; though in the debate, nothing 
was alleged to show that this distinguished person, called 
to his confidence and councils, had ever, during Lord Fitz- 
william's Government, made any other use of the estima- 
tion in which he is held in his country, than to perform 
this, and other similar services to his Majesty's Govern- 
ment, and to reconcile the minds of his fellow-subjects of 
that kingdom to bear the burdens brought on these ser- 
vices with cheerfulness, and to co-operate with alacrity 
and unanimity in every means of giving them their full 

Dissentient: 15th. Because it is offered in proof, that 
the late Lord-lieutenant was diligent in the search, and 
prompt in the communication to Ministers of every informa- 
tion on the subject. That he soon found, that all hope of put- 
ting off the question was impracticable ; — that he had reason 
to think the present time, for carrying the principle of the 
acts of 1792 and 1793 to their full object, to be, of all 
others, most favourable ; — that he found the relief to be 
ardently desired by the Catholics ; to be asked for by 
very many Protestants, and to be cheerfully acquiesced in by 
almost all; — that this circumstance removed the difficulties, 
on which the postponing the question could alone be 
desired ; — that he found the delays had created much sus- 
picion and uneasiness amongst the Catholic petitioners, 
who were numerous almost beyond all example ; — that he 
found a bill on those petitions would infallibly and speedily 
be brought into Parliament, and that many members were 
desirous to introduce it ; and, if this were the case, the 
measure might come into hands with which neither he nor the 
King's ministers had any connection, which would leave 
with Government only the disagreeable part of altering or 
of modifying, if any alteration or modification had been 
thought necessary by the British Government, depriving 


His Majesty thereby of the whole grace and effect of what 
was done: that in this unpleasant situation he sent for Air. 
Grattan, and desired him, as a perso?i in his confidence, and 
who would act on the occasion according to what he and the 
Ministers, in their prudence, might suggest ; — that Mr. Grat- 
tan did consent, and did, at his desire, move for leave to 
bring in a bill for the further relief of the Roman Catho- 
lics ; — that the motion for leave was received with little 
discussion, and without any division ; — that no bill on the 
subject was, in fact, brought in, and that Ministry were 
informed, that none would be brought in without their 
knowledge ; nor until of late, and after Lord Fitzwilliam's 
departure, was such a thing attempted ; — that the then 
Lord-lieutenant communicated largely all his ideas on the 
subject; — that whilst the proposed bill was not yetintro- 
duced into the House of Commons, and whilst he was 
obeying their instructions, with regard to informations and 
opinions, he was suddenly removed with the strongest 
marks of displeasure and disgrace ; — that in this state of 
things, no sufficient reason appears to exist, in this mea- 
sure, any more than in the business of arrangements, for 
the unusual and alarming step of disgracing a Lord- 
lieutenant in the middle of a session of Parliament, in 
which the business of His Majesty and of the whole 
empire (as far as that kingdom would operate in it) was 
carried on with unusual unanimity and success, and with a 
very great concurrence without doors of all orders and 
descriptions of men. It is a step for which, on the 
debate, nothing was said to make it appear justifiable, and 
to render an inquiry concerning it unnecessary. 


In the House of Commons, a motion similar to 
that in the Lords was made by Mr. Jekyll, Mr. 
Fox, and Mr. (afterwards Lord) Grey spoke 
highly in favour of Lord Fitzwilliam, and com- 
plained of the ill treatment practised towards 
Ireland. Mr. Pitt declined any explanation, 
pleaded official secrecy, and the right of the King 
to remove or dismiss whom he pleased. No suf- 
ficient arguments were advanced against the 
Irish, nothing to justify or even palliate his con- 


duct ; and his sole protection against a people he 
had thus injured and insulted, was his accus- 
tomed majority — 188 to 49 being against the 


London, 25th April, 1795. 
Dear Grattan, — The illness of Milton at Billing has 
prevented me writing to you : whilst I remained there, I 
could have nothing worth troubling you with. The scene 
now begins to open here. 1 went on Wednesday to the 
levee. Very little was said to me ; only a few questions about 
my son's health; however, I thought the manner gracious, 
as the King, upon seeing me, passed by some people to 
come directly to me. After the levee was over, I demanded 
my audience in the closet; I opened the subject by stat- 
ing myself, as a person in a state of crimination by the re- 
call which his ministers had recommended to his Majesty 
to send for my return ; that this could not have been re- 
commended without implying misconduct; it was pecu- 
liarly, therefore, my duty to give to his Majesty the best 
account I was able of the circumstances of my administra- 
tion, that he might recollect the perilous and difficult 
moment in which I received the government. A fleet of 
the enemy, of thirty-six sail of the line, came hovering 
upon our coast, and no strength on the part of his Majes- 
ty's fleet to protect us ; — we were open to invasion; — that an 
invasion would have occurred at that period, in an unfor- 
tunate moment, from the unfortunate circumstance of the 
great mass of the lower orders being disaffected notoriously, 
and supposed ready to flock to the standard of an invader ; — 
that I had judged it necessary, without loss of time, to 
make such arrangements as I conceived would tend to give 
satisfaction to the public : — that this was to be done, not only 
by calling to my councils persons in which the public reposed 
real confidence, but to make it manifest at the same time, that 
the whole system of government, which was so odious, was no 
longer to be pursued, by the removal of particular persons ; — 
that his Majesty's service had incontrovertibly profited 
by the arrangements; — that the proof that it had, was to be 
found, first, in the grants and measures of Parliament, and 
next in the universal concurrence which those acts of his 
Parliament met with amongst every description of his sub- 
jects; — that the Catholic Question being a measure upon 



which the opinions of his Cabinet icere known to me, as upon 
its principle there rested of discretion nothing but the time. 
That his Majesty was now enabled to form his own judg- 
ment upon the justness of my decision, by the universal 
approbation with which the emancipation of the Catholics 
was received on the part of his Protestant subjects. That 
if it might be supposed that my partiality for the measure 
might give it a sanction, his Protestant subjects would 
not venture to approach the Houses of Parliament, or the 
Castle, with petitions against it, during the supposed 
authority of my administration ; there had existed a subse- 
quent period, when that authority was publicly set at 
naught; and, therefore, no such reason could be said to 
exist then ; but their silence in the last period, was as com- 
plete, as in the first, save only a petition to his Majesty 
from the corrupt corporation of Dublin, — a proof of the 
power and authority of my opponents, since the active and 
effective men of that body work only for their daily pay. 
They must have been paid for their petition ; the enemy, 
therefore, had been active, but without success, in any 
other instance whatever. But the approbation of the Pro- 
testants rested not upon the presumption of a negative ; it 
was proved by the affirmative sentiments expressed in a 
variety of their addresses to me, sometimes by most une- 
quivocal allusions, oftentimes in most direct terms. I 
stated proudly the claim I conceived I had to his approba- 
tion and favour, by providing in the manner I had done 
for the exigencies of his service, and still more by having 
reconciled to his Government the affections of his people, 
which I feared had been alienated under former adminis- 
trations. That I trusted such would be the opinion of his 
Majesty when the circumstances of the case were more fully 
laid before him, and when he was enabled by his own 
insight into its merits, to form his own judgment upon it. 

I desired his permission to leave in his hands a memorial 
which I had drawn up in a succinct manner for his con- 
sideration. If it was his desire, or if I had his permission, 
I would hereafter enter more fully upon the subject, and 
into a greater detail upon the different parts of my ad- 
ministration ; in the meanwhile i threw myself upon his 
justice for permitting me to vindicate a character that had 
been publicly attacked, in as public a manner as the attack 
had been made, and in such manner as should appear to 
me most suitable to my purpose. He was very gracious 



upon the occasion, and said, u Undoubtedly." — On my de- 
clining an offer of a seat in the cabinet amongst persons 
who had treated me so injuriously and so unjustly, and 
who ought not to have called me to a situation of such im- 
portance to his Majesty's interest and welfare, if they 
really thought me guilty of such crimes as merited the 
punishment they had inflicted ; he expressed, (and in a 
manner that appeared much in earnest,) his most sincere 
conviction, that in no instance had I acted improperly " in 
my own opinion." He had stopped me once before to make a 
protestation to the same effect ; he appeared to me much 
struck with the levity with which I treated the supposed 
danger from the admission of Roman Catholics into Parlia- 
ment ; the folly of pretending to give credit to a danger to 
the Church Establishment from half a dozen Roman 
Catholic gentlemen having seats in Parliament; and the 
responsibility of those clergy who pretended to talk of 
conversions to Catholicism. I told him it would better be- 
come them to defends the sanctity and purity of our religion 
by their efforts, than to slander it by their pretended appre- 
hensions: that danger to the establishment in church or 
state, would never arise from Catholics and Members of 
Parliament acting in their true character and by true law- 
ful means, but from atheists and anarchists. 

Some sentiments of this nature which I threw out 
seemed to be new to him, and to impress him considerably. 
Upon the whole his attention was gracious, but he gave no 
opinion whatever, only as to my intentions. So far for the 
business of the closet. 

I send by the Bishop of Ossory the memorial I pre- 
sented, but I beg to have it kept perfectly secret ; it 
would be highly indecorous to have it known, or its sub- 
stance talked about. The fact that I have presented one, 
I have no objection to being known ; on the contrary, let 
it be known to all the world my anxiety to defend our 
common cause in every place where it ought to be de- 

t entered yesterday upon our defence in the House of 
Lords. Lord Milton did the same in the House of Com- 
mons. — Not having been to the King till Wednesday, 
I could take no step before ; for on Thursday, though I 
attended Hastings' trial, I was too unwell to hold my 
head up for a moment. I yesterday called upon Minis- 
ters to name their day to make good their charges. Their 


act was of itself an indictment, — it was their duty to pro- 
ceed with their evidence. They declined, upon the general 
ground that the removal of a King's servant was not a 
ground of public discussion ; nor was it of necessity that 
there should be blame anywhere. I enforced my claim, 
and was backed by Lord Moira, and the Duke of Nor- 
folk, the latter of whom said, it was not for the dignity of 
the House that such an event should pass without an in- 
vestigation into its causes ; as neither of the parties would 
come forward and name a day, and state a mode of pro- 
ceeding : though himself unprepared to suggest what 
would be the most expedient for the occasion, still he 
would move a summons of the House for Thursday next. 
I must say it stands precisely upon the footing on which I 
should wish it to stand. Being brought forward by a 
third person, I trust I shall find myself in the situation I 
wish to be in ; — that neutral men will force Ministers to 
speak out, or take to themselves the disgrace of shrinking 
from the question. I think it within the reach of possi- 
bility that I may enter largely upon the subject on that 
day. I am convinced they will hang off as long as they 
can. Lord Grenville looked more sour and angry than it 
is to be conceived ; the same remark was made of Pitt, 
yesterday, for the first time. / saw the Duke of Portland 
in the House ; we passed with the coldest bow. Lord Gren- 
ville does not deign to lay his ei/es upon me, and mine do 
not seek him, or any of them. 

When I came out of the closet, Windham, and Lord 
Spencer were in the antichamber : the former came up to 
me, with an open countenance. I received him with 
decent openness. He is the only one that deserves the 
least degree of candour. My own opinion is, that not one 
person pretended to make an effort but him ; all was done 
before he knew anything of it. As for Lord Spencer, 
shame was upon his countenance, and I did nothing to 
wipe it off — it was on its proper place. This is the state 
of things here. I need not say to you, that I expect to 
be supported by opposition ; the ground is too good for 
them to suffer it to slip by. I may be roughly handled by 
them, for aught I know; but still they will support the 
cause. I verily believe public opinion goes much with us, 
and I shall be much disappointed if the discussion does 
not work in our favour. 1 wish I had your abilities to 
fight it through the day ; I would make them sore before 
p 2 


lord milton's letter on [chap. vii. 

the evening. One thing I have to add, that among the 
common connexions of the Duke of Portland and myself, 
I hardly know a second sentiment. The Duke of Devon- 
shire, and Lord John, and Lord George* may keep, and 
I suppose will keep away on the discussion ; but 1 have 
the satisfaction of feeling confident that if they will permit 
themselves to think there is a right and a wrong, they do 
not think me in the wrong. This is a private consolation, 
though I cannot reflect upon it without feeling how great 
an alloy there is in the consolation. I shall be anxious to 
hear, not only of your proceedings in the House, but much 
likewise of the general temper and inclinations of the 

I find you introduced your Bill on Wednesday last, and 
have moved for a Committee on the state of the nation for 
Monday. I shall be wonderfully anxious for the debate on 
the latter day. I understand the Bill is positively to be 
thrown out, to give the lie to my representations. 

This must be a general letter to the Ponsonbys, as 
well as to yourself. Pray communicate it to them, and 
tell them the truth. I have not time to write, nor new 
matter worth their reading. Believe me, both yours and 
theirs affectionately, Wentworth Fitzwilliam. 

My dear Sir, — Having just left Lord Fitzwilliam 
oppressed with one of his head-aches, and consequently 
unable to write to you, I have hurried home, though but 
just in time, to give you some account of the debate 
of last night in the Lords. The motion of the Duke 
of Norfolk was for extracts of such letters as related to the 
recall of the late Lord-Lieutenant, which was immediately 
objected to by Lord Coventry, and afterwards by Lord 
Mansfield, on the general principle of interfering with the 
King's prerogative of dismissing such of his servants as he 
thought proper. On the other side, the particular cir- 
cumstances of the case were considered by Lord Guild- 
ford, and particularly by Lord Moira, who, with great 
force and eloquence, entered into the merits of the 
measures, and stated his complete approbation of them, 
and introduced a compliment and panegyric upon you, 
which your modesty alone could have prevented you from 
hearing, with the same satisfaction and pleasure with 
* Cavendish. 



which it was heard by all your friends. The giant and 
barefaced corruption which had for a course of years per- 
vaded the Government of Ireland, he strongly animad- 
verted upon, and the mention of Beresford's name drew 
up Lord Townshend to give his testimony in favour of 
that gentleman, which he did, shortly stating him as 
a man of honour, integrity, and so forth ; but, previous to 
his short speech, Lord Westmoreland went into a defence 
of his own administration, and what he meant as an 
attack upon Lord Fitzwilliam, the whole delivered in so 
awkward, incoherent, and disgusting a style, and tone of 
voice, as to make considerable impression in the house 
utterly to his advantage. Lord Fitzwilliam replied to 
him, with great force, great dignity, and great effect, 
marking very distinctly the impropriety of Lord West- 
moreland's embarrassing the succeeding Government pre- 
vious to his departure, and continuing the same conduct, 
by his own avowal and confession, upon his arrival in this 
country. The popularity which, on various occasions, in 
and out of Parliament, had so uniformly manifested itself 
towards the King's Government under his administration, 
he ascribed to the notoriety of his having placed his 
confidence in you, and the Ponsonbys, and in your con- 
nexions, and in his having withdrawn it from it from 
those who had enjoyed the confidence of the administra- 
tion to which he succeeded, and on your popularity, 
on the use you had at all times made of that popularity, 
on your views, on your character, and on your abilities, he 
expatiated, with an ease and eloquence that seemed to 
flow from the nature of the subject and the justice of the 
cause. The length of Lord Grenville's speech, which was 
merely upon the impropriety of inquiring into a dismissal, 
— the futility of Lord Buckingham's, which was merely a 
eulogy upon Beresford, and Hamilton, — or Lord Spencer's, 
which was expressive only of his satisfaction from the 
conduct of Mr. Pitt towards himself, I need not enter 
into. But Lord Lauderdale's was in a strain that 1 cannot 
pass over ; the comparison he drew of the speeches of the 
two Lord-Lieutenants was masterly in the highest degree, 
and his animadversions upon Lord Westmoreland's most 
severe; who, when he was declaiming against Lord Fitz- 
william's profusion in making arrangements, claimed the 
reversion to Wolfe as his own act, and who, when finding- 
fault with his disclosing private communications, had the 


lord milton's letter. [chap. vii. 

folly and impudence himself to state conversations that 
had passed between himself and Mr. Pitt (whom he 
named without any circumlocution) on the subject of the 
Catholic measure, which Pitt told him was not to pass, and 
on the subject of the removals, which Pitt told him were not 
to take place ! ! / / Excuse me to the Ponsonbys for not 
writing to them, by shewing them this letter. I wish 
I may do you the same justice on Tuesday, that Lord 
Fitzwilliam did you yesterday. We hear of Pelham's 
declaration with astonishment. Yours ever, 


P.S. How the Duke of Portland should have escaped 
the debate will appear as extraordinary to you as it does 
to me. Accusations of general duplicity were thrown 
out, but nothing particular against him. He said a few 
words at the close of the debate. 



Conduct of the Irish on the recall of Lord Fitzvvilliam, March, 1795 — Ad- 
dresses to Mr. Grattan, and his answers — Error of the Opposition in 
joining the Duke of Portland — Arrival of Lord Camden — Mr. Grattan's 
remarks as to British cabinet and connexion — Sensation in the House by 
his spirited conduct — Motion on the state of the nation — rejected — 
Separation between Protestant and Catholic — Rejection of Catholic 
question — Remarks of Mr. Grattan — Result of change of government 
— Defenders and Orangemen — Persecution of Catholics — Lord Gos- 
ford and the Armagh resolutions — Spread of Defenderism and L T nited 
Irish — Illegal conduct of Lord Carhampton — Parliament meets, Ja- 
nuary, 1796 — Indemnity and Insurrection Bills — Speech of Lord Ed- 
ward Fitzgerald — State of peasantry — Motion of Curran and Jephson — 
Whig Club report on the poor of Ireland — Invasion apprehended — 
Parliament called in October 1796 — Mr. Grattan's amendment — 
Messrs. Fletcher and Curran — Habeas Corpus Act suspended — Mr. 
Grattan's proposition in favour of the Catholics — His declaration as 
to the Government measures — Yeomanry called out. 

The Irish people did not remain silent or passive 
spectators of the duplicity practised upon them 
by Mr. Pitt. Oppressed by penal laws, they had 
long submitted to unmerited injury. Now they 
were called on to submit to unwonted insult. 
They justly felt, that though the former might be 
atoned for, yet the latter admitted of no compen- 
sation ; and if they tolerated such indignity with- 
out a murmur, they would be lowered in their 
own esteem, and in the opinion of every lover of 
justice and freedom. Accordingly, Protestants 
and Catholics alike assembled, and addressed 
Lord Fitzwilliam and Mr. Grattan, deprecating 
the departure of the Viceroy, and the loss of the 
public measures which he and Mr. Grattan had 
supported. Petitions were presented to the King, 
complaining of the conduct of his minister. The 
counties of Tipperary, Galway, Wexford, the 



Queen's County, the Catholics of Dublin, the 
Protestants of Londonderry, some of the minor 
Corporations of Dublin, the Students of the Uni- 
versity, addressed Mr. Grattan on the occasion, 
and expressed, in spirited and patriotic terms, 
their sense of the ill-treatment which the country 
had received. Mr. Grattan's replies merit atten- 
tion, as well for the principles they contain, as for 
the sketch of Irish affairs which they delineate. 
No history of these times would be complete 
without them. 


To the Right Hon. Henry Grattan. 

Sir, — We are instructed by the Catholics of Dublin to 
offer you their humble tribute of thanks and gratitude, as 
well for the eminent services which you have rendered to 
this kingdom on various occasions, as for your able and 
generous exertions in their cause. It is not easy to do 
justice to a man whose name is connected with the most 
brilliant events of his time, and who has already obtained 
the highest of all titles, — the deliverer of his country : but 
though it is impossible to add to your fame by any terms 
we can employ, it must be grateful to you to learn that 
you have a place, not only in the admiration, but in the 
affections of your countrymen. 

To be thus loved and admired is surely an amiable dis- 
tinction. It may not, perhaps, be sufficient to preserve or 
purchase station and power at court, but to a well-formed 
mind it is a source of purer satisfaction, than the favour 
and protection even of monarchs or their ministers. Few 
men have had it in their power to do so much for their 
native land as you have done for Ireland. When you first 
entered into public life, garrison habits, and provincial pre- 
judices, were opposed to Irish interests and feelings, and, what 
was still more discouraging, the different descriptions of' people 
in this country, far from being ready to meet in a common 
point for their mutual advantage, were kept asunder by per' 
verse and unintelligible antipathies of a religious nature. 
Into this chaos of contradiction you infused your spirit, 
and brought order in some measure out of confusion. The 
first effort of your eloquence was to rouse the Irish parlia- 



ment to assert its own independence ; and, notwithstanding 
the habits of subjection which particular causes had in- 
duced, you were successful. At present you are engaged 
in a pursuit equally honourable to your head, and still more 
to your heart. As mover of the Catholic Bill, you are 
endeavouring to inculcate the necessity of moderation and 
justice, where you had before inspired courage: and urging 
men who triumphed over foreign supremacy, to an act of 
much greater dignity and difficulty, — a sacrifice of the pre- 
judices of their youth and education. 

In this work, so full of genius and public spirit, and 
which goes to the creation of a people, as your former exertions 
went to the forming of a constitution, you have already 
made considerable progress ; and when you and your illus- 
trious friends were called to the councils of a virtuous vice- 
roy, we looked with confidence to the accomplishment of 
your patriotic intentions. 

Some enemy, however, to the king and to the people, has 
interposed his malignant and wicked suggestions, and endea- 
voured to throw obstacles in the way of our total emanci- 
pation. But we are far from giving way to sentiments of 
despondency and alarm. We feel the justice of our pre- 
tensions, and we are persuaded that what is fittest will pre- 
vail over the arts of perfidy and falsehood. 

What gives us the most sensible satisfaction, is the 
general union of sentiment that pervades all ranks and 
descriptions of Irishmen on the present occasion. Never 
did Ireland speak with a voice so unanimous. Protestants 
and Catholics are at this moment united, and seem to have no 
other contest but who shall resent most the outrage that has 
been offered to Irish pride in the intended removal of a 
patriotic viceroy from the Government, and you and your 
friends from the councils of this kingdom. 

(Signed) By order, &c. &c. 


Gentlemen ; — In supporting you, I support the Pro- 
testants. We have but one interest and one honour, and 
whoever gives privileges to you, gives vigour to all. The 
Protestant already begins to perceive it. A late attack 
has rallied the scattered spirits of the country from the 
folly of religious schism, to the recollection of national 
honour; and a nation's feuds are lost in a nation's resentment. 
Your emancipation will pass ; rely on it, your emancipation 



must pass : it may be death to one Viceroy, it will be the 
peace-offering of another ; and the laurel may be torn from 
the dead brow of one governor to be craftily converted into 
the olive for his successor. 

Let me advise you by no means to postpone the con- 
sideration of your fortunes till after the war ; rather let 
Britain receive the benefit of your zeal during the exigency 
which demands it, and you yourselves, while you are fight- 
ing to preserve the blessing of a constitution, have really 
and bonajide those blessings. 

My wish is that you should be free now ; there is no 
other policy which is not low and little ; let us at once in- 
stantly embrace, and greatly emancipate.* 

On this principle I mean to introduce your bill, with 
your permission, immediately after the recess. 

You are pleased to speak of the confidence and power 
with which for a moment I was supposed to have been 

When his Majesty's ministers were pleased to resort to 
our support, they took us with the incumbrance of our 
reputation, and with all our debts and mortgages which we 
owed to our country. 

To have accepted a share of confidence and council 
without a view to private advantage, will not meet, I hope, 
with the disapprobation of my country ; but to have ac- 
cepted that share without any view of public advantage, 
would have been refinement on the folly of ambition ; mea- 
sures, therefore, public measures and arrangements, and 
that which is now disputed, were stipulated by us, were 

* These words were animadverted on many years afterwards in the 
Imperial Parliament by Sir Robert Peel (then Secretary). He had per- 
severed to the last in opposing this principle of Mr. Grattan. Ulti- 
mately, he was forced to submit, and give, in 1829, a reluctant, and 
hard-earned victory to the Catholics. But this tardy and thrifty con- 
cession deprived the measure of its healing effects, and impaired its 
greatness. It came late, — it came ungraciously, — it disfranchised 
200,000 Irish electors, and even Mr, O'Connell, who had been returned 
for Clare, was excluded by its enactment. 

The spirited conduct of the people of Clare was beyond all praise, and 
should never be forgotten by those who value freedom. In spite of 
threats, promises, and intimidation, they persevered in returning a 
Catholic before the repeal of the exclusive statutes — (he could be elected, 
though he could not sit or vote without incurring a heavy penalty). 
Yet, as if for this virtuous conduct, the forty shilling voters were disfran- 
chised. Such are generally the rewards that Ireland has received for 
her patriotism ! 



promised in one quarter, and with assurances they were 
resisted in another. 

In the service of Government, under his Excellency's 
administration, we directed our attention to two great ob- 
jects, — the kingdom and the empire. We obtained certain 
beneficial laws, the discovery and reformation of certain 
abuses, and were in progress to reform more ; we obtained 
a great force, and a great supply, with the consent and con- 
fidence of the people. These icere not the measures of cour- 
tiers, they were the measures of ministers. 

His Excellency Lord Fitzwilliam may boast that he of- 
fered to the empire, the affections of mil/ions, a better aid to 
tear than hi* enemies can f urnish, who have forfeited those 
affections, and put themselves in their place. 

So decidedly have the measures of Ireland served the 
empire, that those who were concerned in them might 
appeal from the cabals of the British Cabinet to the sense 
of the British nation. I know no cause for the displea- 
sure of the English Cabinet ; but if the services done to 
Ireland are crimes which cannot be atoned for by the 
empire, I must lament the gloomy prospects of both king- 
doms, and receive a discharge from the service of Govern- 
ment, as the only honor an English minister can confer on 
an Irish subject. I conceive the continuance of Lord 
Fitzwilliam as necessary for the prosperity of this king- 
dom. His firm integrity is formed to correct; his mild 
manners to reconcile, and his private example to discounte- 
nance a progress of vulgar and rapid pollution ; if he is to 
retire, 1 condole with my country. For myself, the pangs 
on that occasion I should feel, on rendering up my small 
portion of ministerial breath, would be little, were it not 
for the gloomy prospects afforded by those dreadful guar- 
dians which are likely to succeed. I tremble at the return 
to power of your old task-masters : that combination which 
galled the country with its tyranny, insulted her by its 
manners, exhausted her by its rapacity, and slandered her 
by its malice. Should such a combination, once inflamed, 
as it must be now by the favour of the British court, and 
by the reprobation of the Irish people, return to power, / 
have no hesitation to say that they will extinguish Ire/and, 
or Ireland must remove them. It is not your case only, 
but that of the nation. I find the country already com- 
mitted in the struggle ; I beg to be committed along with 
her, and to abide the issues of her fortunes. 



I should have expected that there had been a wisdom and 
faith in some quarter of another country, that would have 
prevented such catastrophe ; but 1 know it is no proof of 
that wisdom to take the taxes, to continue the abuses, damp 
the zeal, and dash away the affection of so important a 
member of the empire as the people of Ireland ; and when 
this country came forward, cordial and confident, with the 
offering of her treasure and blood, and resolute to stand or 
fall with the British nation, — it is, I say, no proof of 
wisdom nor generosity to select that moment to plant a 
dagger in her heart. But whatsoever shall be the event, 
I will adhere to her interests to the last moment of my 
life. Henry Grattan. 


To the Right Hon. Henry Grattan. 

Sir, — If services to Ireland are to be deemed crimes, — 
if a life devoted to the successful assertion of the dignity 
and independence of his native country, excites the sus- 
picion and distrust of those who seem desirous to convert an 
imperial kingdom into a dependent province; the patriot 
who enjoys the confidence, and has earned the gratitude 
of millions, will find in the consciousness of his own 
integrity the best reward of his virtues, and the firmest 
support of his measures, in the unanimous concurrence 
and approbation of every class of the people. 

The baleful breach of narrow and bigoted politicians 
may check, but cannot destroy the blossoms of our just 
expectations whilst you live ; and we think we cannot 
despair that freedom — constitutional freedom, will extend, 
and must be imparted to all Irishmen. 

You, Sir, have our confidence; and whilst we have 
formed the most sanguine expectations from your un- 
shaken virtue, and most brilliant talents, we feel at the 
same time an honest pride by our attachment to the con- 
stitution, and by our long-tried loyalty, to have entitled 
ourselves to your approbation and support. 
(Signed) by order, 

Thomas Lanigan, Chairman. 
George Greene, Secretary. 


Gentlemen, — I thank you for the confidence you are 




pleased to repose in me, and for the choice of the time in 
which you are pleased to express it. 

To have incurred the displeasure of a powerful quarter, is 
to me no new mi fortune. If I wanted consolation, I have 
it in my own conviction, in your confidence , and in the appro- 
bation of my country. 

The justice of your cause; your attachment to His 
Majesty; your desire to preserve and cultivate a connexion 
with Great Britain ; the firm but dutiful tone with which 
you apply for privileges, and now the interposition of 
your Protestant brethren in your favour, must ultimately 
secure your success. 

The tranquillity observed at this present interesting 
moment, in places, too, where so many rumours to the 
contrary were so confidently circulated, is an argument 
that the Catholics are too much in earnest to be tumul- 
tuary, and that they seek, through the peace of the country, 
the privileges of the constitution. 

The most adverse to your cause, (save the few who are 
always adverse to the people,) will at last see the pro- 
priety of your claims; they will surrender their prejudices 
to their patriotism, and, receiving you as fellow subjects 
and fellow-freemen, will in the end give an honest victory 
to their intellect and their understanding. In common witli 
the rest of their country, I lament that by the recall of 
Lord Fitzwilliam, your expectations of redress should have 
received so great a discouragement ; but I shall despond, 
indeed, if the departure of his Excellency was to be followed 
by the restoration of the old system of government and its 
advisers. If rest of ed to their power, I have said, they would 
extinguish their country; after mature deliberation, I feel 
myself obliged to repeat the expression in its fullest ex- 

It is on the same due consideration I must again repeat 
another part of a former answer, where I have the honour 
to express my entire concurrence with those who have 
remonstrated to the throne against the restoration of that 
destructive and degrading system of Government. Com- 
mitted as I feel myself to support to the utmost of my 
poor abilities, my countrymen and their just efforts, and 
to share the unjust resentments to which such efforts 
may expose them, I have the honour to be your very 
humble servant, Henry Grattan. 




To the Right Honourable Henry Grattan. 

Sir, — We lament with you, but we condole with the 
empire, that some malignant influence has caused you to 
retreat from your ministerial situation ; we lament that 
you have lost power, inasmuch as we deplore that the 
active influence of virtue is diminished. As patriots, we 
hailed the auspicious inaugurations of virtue and talent in 
the Irish Cabinet; as patriots, we lament it is suspended. 
While you could influence, we had no doubt but that we 
should be united into one people, by the removal of every 
civil distinction arising from religious difference of opi- 
nion, and that thereby we should deserve the name of a 

Sir, it is highly honourable to your nature, although 
not to the age we live in, that your dismission was sup- 
posed a necessary and previous step to the return of some that 
are not reputed to love the people. 

Charles Blake, High Sheriff. 


Gentlemen, — In or out of confidence, with or without 
a share of power, in all the changes of political life, I am 
attached to your interests for ever. 

Ministers every hour may precipitate, but the country is 
a fixed light, and in that luminary I shall never want an 
object to serve and to contemplate. The late Lord Lieutenant, 
who so wisely and mildly administered this country, was 
pleased to honour me with a certain share of his con- 
fidence. I feel myself particularly happy when the choice 
of the purest mind is confirmed by the approbation of my 

In your address to me, so kind and so honourable, you 
much over-rate my talents. I hope you do not over-rate 
my principles ; but whatever they are, talents or prin- 
ciples, they are at the service of the public. Nor do I 
know of any question more a part of that service, than the 
one you so justly recommend — the emancipation of the Catho- 
lics. Those who may succeed to direct the councils of this 
country, could not have a prouder opportunity, nor do I 
know of any legacy to bequeath them more valuable, than 


the power of giving freedom to such a portion of their 

I would accompany that bequest with a parting prayer, 
"That whoever shall be your ministers, they may exceed 
their predecessors in talents, and rival them in patriotism ; 
and, above all, that they may avoid the dreadful system of 
abuses and grievances, of tyranny and plunder, that formerly 
blemished the government of their country." To exercise 
the functions of a minister, it is necessary to have the 
confidence of the Sovereign ; but there is another qualifica- 
tion for the minister of a free country, not less indispensable 
than the choice of the King — it is, love of the people ! ! 

Gentlemen, 1 have the honour to be, with the greatest 
esteem, your most humble servant, 

Henry Grattan. 


Sir, — We, the students of the University of Dublin, 
entering with the warmest sympathy into the universal 
feeling and interest of our countrymen, beg leave to unite 
our voice with theirs in declaring our admiration of your 
great and uncommon talents, and a reliance on your 
steady patriotism and unshaken integrity. We have with 
sorrow beheld the removal of a beloved Viceroy, whose 
arrival we regarded as the promise of public reform, and his 
presence the pledge of general tranquillity . 

If this event should be accompanied (as we have reason 
to apprehend) by your removal from His Majesty's coun- 
cils in this nation, our regret will have received the last 
additional circumstance of aggravation, and our despon- 
dency will be complete. Relying, however, on the wisdom 
and benignity of His Majesty, we yet entertain a hope that 
the nation will not be deprived of the salutary measures 
flowing from your councils and advice, and that the har- 
mony and strength of Ireland will be founded on the solid 
basis of Catholic Emancipatioti, and the reform of those 
grievances which have inflamed public indignation. 

We therefore entreat you to persevere in exerting the 
full energy of your splendid talents for the attainment of 
those objects which the present alarming posture of affairs, 
and the consenting wishes of the nation so loudly demand. 

Thomas Moore, Chairman. 

N. Willis, Secretary. 



Ingenuous Young Men ; — For this effusion of the 
heart, I owe you more than ordinary gratitude, and am 
proud to sympathize in your native, honest, and unadul- 
terated impressions. I receive your address as the offering 
of a young year — a better garland than the artificial 
honours of a court ; it is the work of disinterested hands, 
and the present of uncontaminated hearts. May that 
ardour which glows in your breasts long exist, and may 
the sentiments which you breathe long prevail ; they are 
founded in principle, enlightened by letters, and sup- 
ported by spirit. The subjects which you mention I 
recommend, I feel, and pursue. I lament the recall of a 
patriot Viceroy. Assisted by men much abler than my- 
self, the reform of that system you condemn I shall not 
fail to attempt ; bound, as I now am, to the rising, as well 
as the passing age, and happy, as I shall be, to go 
on in the service of both, I join in your fullest wishes for 
the Catholics; and I feel the important service which you 
now render them, by marking in their favour the senti- 
ments of the rising generation ; doing, at the same time, 
so much honour to yourselves, when you give, I had 
almost said, your first vote in favour of your country. 

I am bound to your University by every tie of affection 
and duty. The sentiments of your address give me a new 
and just opportunity of saying to her, through you— 
" Esto perpetua, thou seat of science, and mother of 
virtue ! " 

I am, with the sincerest regard, your most humble 
servant, Henry Grattan. 

9th April, 1795. 

In late as well as in early times the Irish aris- 
tocracy have attached themselves too much to 
party in England, and have forgotten the real 
interests of their own nation. The wiser policy 
would have been to have attended exclusively 
to their own country, — a course more patriotic, 
though less profitable. In the present case, the 
Irish opposition committed a great mistake in join- 
ing the Duke of Portland, who was a very weak, 
not a very sincere man, possessed of no power 



whatever, and a mere instrument of Mr. Pitt. 
When first consulted, Mr. Grattan was against 
this proceeding, but afterwards was induced to 
assent, chiefly through the interference of Mr. 
Burke, as stated by him in one of the foregoing 
letters. The Irish leaders should have seen 
through Mr. Pitt's arts, and that his real object 
was to weaken the Fox party, and strengthen his 
own ; and it was a mistake to think that Mr. Pitt, 
who, as well as the King, had strove to break 
down the aristocracy of England (as Lord Thurlow 
observed of the latter), would have allowed a Whig 
interest to grow up in Ireland, under the Duke of 
Portland, and have sanctioned the existence of a 
body acting against the Cabinet of England. The 
Opposition completely deceived themselves : it 
was not possible for them to remain in office, 
more particularly as they were undermined at 
home : for Lord Clare and Mr. Beresford never 
would have joined them. Their surest plan would 
have been to have declined both office and oppo- 
sition, and have offered to Mr. Pitt to give up the 
latter, provided he would grant the Catholic ques- 
tion. This was a policy that Mr. Grattan would 
gladly have pursued, but others were not inclined 
to adopt such a chivalrous and disinterested 
course. They had a large party to uphold, and 
many friends to provide for. Undoubtedly, as it 
turned out, the business was managed very unfor- 
tunately, and for the peace of Ireland, most fatally. 
The policy of Mr. Pitt was a most dangerous one, 
and proved nearly ruinous to the empire : it 
showed how little confidence the Irish people 
could place in any British minister, and again 
confirmed the justice of Mr. Flood's remark as to 
V the generous credulity of the Irish nation." 

On the 31st of March, a few days after Lord 



Fitz william's departure, Lord Camden arrived* — 
a great name, but with principles very different 
from those of his illustrious relation — the instru- 
ment of a desperate faction, instead of the impar- 
tial governor of an independent nation. On the 
21st of April, Mr. Grattan moved in the House of 
Commons for a Committee on the state of the 
nation. He then declared — " That Catholic 
emancipation was not only the concession of the 
British Cabinet, but its precise engagement. My 
friends declared they would never support any 
government that would resist that Bill, and it was 
agreed to by that quarter with perfect concur- 
rence." Mr. George Ponsonby said he pledged 
his reputation on the truth of the statements as to 
the powers granted to Lord Fitzwilliam. The 
remarks which Mr. Grattan made respecting the 
British Cabinet, were so applicable then, and in 
subsequent periods proved to be so true, that they 
are worthy of being recorded : — 

" It is a matter of melancholy reflection to consider how 
little that Cabinet knows any thing relating to Ireland, 
Ireland is a subject it considers with a lazy contumely, and 
picks up here and there by accident or design, interested and 
erroneous intelligence. I am well aware how much on a 
late occasion the friends of the last Administration were 
grossly misrepresented to that Cabinet, and how the dis- 
position and temper of the people in general were misstated 
and traduced, and how deaf the ears of that Cabinet were 
to the representation of the Viceroy, while open to the tales 
of the interested and discontented. * # * * The British 
Ministers in 1792, gave hopes to the Catholics. The new 
colleagues in 1794, gave hopes; and both have now united 
in disappointing those hopes which they both had excited. 
The public disappointment on this point is to be charged 

* After swearing in the Lord Lieutenant, a riot occurred; a mob at- 
tacked the Chancellor, the Archbishop of Armagh, and Mr. Beresford, 
on their return from the Castle. The Chancellor was struck on the 
head with a stone, but was not severely injured ; the military were called 
out, and the populace were dispersed. 



to them — so is the disappointment on the general state of 
affairs; they send over a Viceroy professedly to unite and 
satisfy the people ; he proceeds on the reform of certain 
abuses, and gets a great supply of money and men, and 
then they recall him in the occupation of his reforms. 
Having retained the money, they recall their Minister of 
reformation, because he has displaced some of the ministers 
of abuses. They do this with as little regard to the feel- 
ings of the country as to her interest, and they produce 
by this act, which they say is done for the preservation of 
the empire, an unanimity against the Government, after 
Lord Fitzwilliam produced an unanimity in its favour. 

* What is the effect of this on the empire, for whose pre- 
servation it is said to have taken place ? They damp the 
recruiting service, stop subscription, and convert a nation 
of support into a nation of remonstrance. They offer this 
affront to the only, or almost the only, nation, that stood 
by England ; and while they are subsidising false or doubt- 
ful allies, they strike that country who has not received, 
but has given aid to them ; and they do this in the very 
moment in which she makes her exertion in their favour. 
They excite a domestic fever at the hazard of the general 
interest, for no object, or for an object too despicable or 
too criminal to be mentioned. 

u I wish most ardently to distinguish the British nation 
and the British administration ; and that whatever indispo- 
sition their misconduct may excite, it shall be confined to 
them, and never damv the national affection for Great Bri- 
tain, which I hope will he immortal. It is said that the 
people are irritated : — Who irritated them ? The Cabinet 
of England. Who converted national harmony into na- 
tional discontent ? The Cabinet of England. 

" Gentlemen have mentioned publications, and redresses, 
and remonstrances, entered into by the people. I have 
seen some which do honour to their authors : just in their 
resentment ; manly in their conception ; and nothing less 
than the occasion called for. I heartily join in such re- 
monstrances, and, with them, / reprobate that pernicious 
and profligate system and its abettors, ichich disgraced this 
countri/, and with them I deprecate its return. 1 have not 
seen all the addresses and publications of the time, but I 
believe there never, from any description of the people, ap- 
peared a composition so blasted as that horrid declaration 
which we all remember, and which asserted, ' That certain 
Q 2 



parliamentary provisions ought to be defended, as expedient 
to buy the members* — political expedients; and as such 
to be defended' Such a declaration could not come from 
the people ; and was worthy to corrupt the lips of a herald 
of profligacy. 

" I have had occasion to make various answers to dif- 
ferent addresses. I remember them well ; Ire-assert them; 
if they have given offence I am ready to maintain them. 
I am here ready to meet enquiry ; 1 am here to confront 
my enemies, and stand by my country ! ! !" 

These last words produced a great sensation in 
the House. Mr. Grattan, in his defiance to the 
Government, boldly threw down the gauntlet ; 
but Mr. Pitt's supporters feared to take it up. 
The perfidy that had been practised was about to 
be proved by the person who had treated with 
Mr. Pitt, and who had never been guilty of any 
dereliction of promise or principle, and whose 
regard to truth was ever sacred. If the motion 
had been granted, the duplicity of the entire pro- 
ceedings would have been fully exposed, and the 
British minister would have been convicted. The 
friends of Mr. Grattan vigorously supported him, 
and at the concluding sentence their cheers of 
approbation grew loud and vehement ; the public 
and both galleries^ caught the contagion, and in 
their sympathy with the Opposition, burst into loud 
and repeated applauses. The House was thrown 
into confusion — the Speaker in vain interposed; — 
at length he was obliged to direct the galleries to 
be cleared, and order was then restored. The 
motion, however, was rejected by 158 to 48, and 
thus were cast away the affections of the Irish 

* Lord Clare's intimation at the period of the Regency. 

f There were two galleries in the Irish House of Commons. Mr. 
Foster (Speaker) had narrowed the space, and reserved the one behind 
the chair for the friends of the members and for the Government : ladies 
were admitted into both. A painting of the House when Mr. Grattan 
moved the claim of Right in 1782 (most of the distinguished characters 
taken from original portraits) is in possession of the Editor. 


Catholics, and the friendship of the Irish nation. 
Anger and resentment now took the place of hope 
and joy ; the Catholics began to despair ; the 
Protestants were anew excited against them ; — 
these parties broke off the friendship which had so 
auspiciously begun, and finally separated to their 
mutual destruction and disgrace. They aban- 
doned the rights and liberties that should have 
been restored to the one party ; they departed 
from that high character which had been just ac- 
quired by the other, and ultimately sacrificed the 
peace and honour of their country. Both parties 
ran into extremes : the one had recourse to vio- 
lence and bloodshed, the other turned for refuge 
and revenge to France; and thus was effected 
their ruin as a nation. But a few years before, 
the Irish had imposed on their ancient riot — 
order; on their religious discord — silence; they 
had preferred their claim of right with modesty ; 
they had supported it with moderation ;* they 
had obtained it ; but now, goaded by a wicked 
set of men on one side, and seduced by wild and 
foolish leaders on the other, they suffered them- 
selves to be driven into insurrection and civil war; 
they rebelled, the one against the King, the other 
against the Constitution, and both became nothing. 
They lost their early acquisitions ; their rank in the 
scale of nations, and their well-earned fame for mo- 
deration and wisdom ; and have only left to history 
the melancholy task of recording the sad catas- 
trophe, perhaps intended by Providence to serve 
as an instructive lesson to kings, ministers, and 

* The debt of the nation amounted, in 1795, to 3,820,000/.; in five 
years afterwards it increased, at the Union, to 25,000,000/. ; a few years 
after to 150,000,000/.; and in 1816, Ireland was proclaimed bankrupt. 
What a contrast between the prosperity that followed after 1782, and 
the consequences that followed from 1800 ! and what a proof it is that 
nations should govern themselves, and never trust the management of 
their affairs to others ! 


The Catholic question was now speedily dis- 
posed of.* On the 4th of May (1795), Mr. Grat- 
tan moved that the bill be read a second time ; it 
was opposed with increased virulence. Mr. Toler 
(Solicitor General), in a prepared harangue, re- 
plete with prejudice, moved its rejection, which 
was carried by 155 to 48. On this occasion, 
Arthur O'Connor made a very able and talented 
speech in favour of the bill. Doctor Duigenan 
and Mr. Robert Johnson (afterwards judge) dis- 
tinguished themselves by sentiments very violent 
and very hostile to the people. Mr. Grattan's 
splendid speeches on this great question are too 
well known to render necessary even a partial 
recital ; one passage, however, which relates to 
the passing events of that time, may be re- 
ferred to. 

u To what allies and assistance have this ministry re- 
sorted, who, for the sake of the connection, would exclude 
Irish Catholics ? Are not their armies mostly Catholics ? 
Is not your militia mostly Catholics? Is not a great por- 
tion of their seamen Catholics ? Are not the princes with 
whom they are leagued Catholics ? The King of Prussia 
is not so, nor the Dutch, I acknowledge. What Catholic 
prince have they not sought ? What Popish potentate 
have they not trusted ? Have they not canvassed every 
Papist in Europe, and bought every pennyworth of blood, 
and every pound of flesh, and begged of princes to take 
their subsidies ? — and do they now cast off three millions of 
Irish ? They think it better, it seems, to buy Prussian 
faith with English money, than Irish soldiers with Irish 
privileges. They think it better to neglect unanimity 
against France, and throw up new dikes and fortifications 
against the Pope and the Pretender. They see, with 

* The Catholics had assembled in Dublin, and urged Mr. Grattan to 
bring forward their claims ; and, apprehensive that Mr. Pitt meant to 
propose the measure of Union, they passed a resolution, pledging them- 
selves to resist their emancipation if proposed to be conceded on the 
ignominious terms of an acquiescence in the fatal measure of a Union, 
which they pronounced to be a surrender of the liberties of their 

chap, viii.] lord Westmoreland's conduct. 231 

dismay, two or three servants of the Crown dismissed ; the 
exclusion of three millions of men they regard not, it 
seems ; they alienate the subject to preserve the connec- 
tion. At what does the English cabinet tremble ? At the 
loss of Holland ? — No ! they bore that well — very well. 
The loss of Brabant? — No! they bore that well — very- 
well. The anxious state of the West Indies? — No! that 
too they bore very well ; but when a proposal is made to 
give Irish subjects constitutional privileges, their fears, 
such as they might have felt at the event of their own 
operations, begin to scare the ministry of Great Britain. 
So trembled the Carthaginian assembly. Those great men 
who had the honour to preside over the disgrace of their 
country, had borne the loss of their armies, the loss of their 
elephants, the loss of their power, with much philosophy ; 
but when something that touched their own cabal, some 
tax on themselves was proposed, then they also trembled. 
The senate of Carthage trembled ; like the British minis- 
try, they were moved by nothing, but by the least of their 

The session of Parliament ended in June, A 
motion of censure on Lord Westmoreland, pro- 
posed by Sir Lawrence Parsons was rejected. 
When Viceroy, in the preceding year, he had sent 
the troops out of the country without leave of 
Parliament; and the law passed in 17G9, during 
the administration of Lord Tovvnsend, directed 
that 12,000 men should always be kept in Ire- 
land, and on this compact 3000 additional men 
were voted, so as to raise the Irish army to 
15,000. In violation of this arrangement, Lord 
Westmoreland withdrew the army, and reduced 
it to 7000. His conduct was, however, defended, 
and, among others, by Colonel Wellesley (Duke 
of Wellington), who was then aide-de-camp to 
Lord Camden. Another motion, proposed by 
Mr. Curran, to address the King on the state of 
the country, was equally unsuccessful ; and the 
only important measure of the session was the 
act to establish the Roman Catholic College of 



Maynooth, for which a vote of 8,000/. a-year 
was passed — as the Catholic clergy were liable to 
be affected in their education abroad by anti- 
English sentiments, it was thought advisable to 
adopt this mode of preventing it. 

The change of Government was now felt 
throughout the country. Protestant and Catholic 
broke out into acts of hostility : the Defenders* 
increased in numbers and violence, and in order 
to counteract them, the Peep of Day Boys, as they 
were originally termed, now came forward in a 
new and more dangerous character. Inflamed in 
a great degree by the violent speeches of Dr. 
Duigenan, Mr. Toler, Mr. Johnson, and others, 
who in the late Catholic debate had made vehe- 
ment appeals to the prejudices of that party, on 
the subject of the glorious memory of King Wil- 
liam and the Revolution of 1688, invoking all 
loyal Protestants to unite in the defence of its 
principles against the Roman Catholics. These 
men assumed the name of Orangemen — said 
they were united to uphold the Protestant as- 
cendancy, and commenced a fierce and almost 
open war against their Catholic countrymen. 
The parties met at a place called the Diamond, in 
the county of Armagh, in the month of Sep- 
tember, 1795, where a conflict took place, in 
which the Catholics were worsted ; and ever 
since the country has been a prey to the fury 
and folly of the contending parties, —and Orange- 
ism has scarcely ceased to exist, even at the 

* The Defenders, who were Roman Catholics, though barbarously 
treated, and almost put out of the pale of society by the Orange party, 
had not yet joined the United Irishmen ; the latter, however, were greatly 
assisted by the violence of Lord Clare and the high Protestants in their 
efforts to effect the junction. Mr. Nevin, in his Pieces of Irish History, 
confirms this when he speaks of " the great probability of getting into the 
confederation at the end of (hat year all the Defenders," — New York 
Edition, 1807. 



period in which these pages are written. Such 
was the height to which the disturbances arose, 
that the governor of the county of Armagh (Lord 
Gosford), found it necessary, in December, to 
convene a meeting of the magistracy, and from 
his speech on that occasion, the situation of the 
country, and the excesses committed upon the 
Catholics, will best appear. After mentioning 
that they had assembled to devise a plan to check 
the enormities that disgraced the county, his 
lordship gave this lamentable description : 

" It is no secret that a persecution, accompanied with all 
the circumstances of ferocious cruelty which have in all 
ages distinguished the dreadful calamity, is now raging in 
this country. Neither age nor sex, nor even acknowledged 
innocence as to any guilt in the late disturbances, is sufficient 
to excite mercy, muc'i less tu afford protection ! ! ! 

"The only crime which the wretched objects of this 
ruthless persecution are charged with, is a crime, indeed, of 
easy proof; it is simply a profession of the Roman Catholic 
faith, or an intimate connection with a person professing 
that faith. A lawless banditti have constituted themselves 
judges of this new species of delinquency, and the sentence 
they have pronounced is equally concise and terrible — 
'tis nothing less than a corifiscation of all property, and an 
immediate banishment ! ! ! 

" It would be extremely painful, and surely unnecessary, 
to detail the horrors that attend the execution of so wide 
and tremendous a proscription — a proscription, that cer- 
tainly exceeds in the comparative number of those it consigns 
to ruin and misery, every example that ancient or modem his- 
tory can supply ; for where have we heard, or in what story 
of human cruelties have we read, of more than half the 
inhabitants of a populous country deprived at one blow of 
the means, as well as of the fruits of their industry, and 
driven, in the midst of an inclement season, to seek a shelter 
for themselves and their helpless families where chance may 
guide them ! ! ! 

" This is no exaggerated picture of the horrid scenes now 
acting in this country, yet surely it is sufficient to awaken 
sentiments of indignation and compassion in the coldest 
bosom. These horrors, I say, are now acting, and acting 

234 lord gosford's proceedings, [chap. VIII. 

with impunity. The spirit of impartial justice {without 
which law is nothing better than an instrument of tyranny) 
has for a time disappeared in this country, and the supineness 
of the magistracy of Armagh is become a common topic of 
conversation in every corner of the kingdom. 

" It is said, in reply, the Roman Catholics are dan- 
gerous. They may be so-— they may be dangerous from 
their numbers, and still more dangerous from the un- 
doubted views they have been encouraged to entertain ; 
but I will venture to assert, (without fear of contradiction,) 
that upon those very grounds, these terrible proceedings 
are not more contrary to humanity than they are to sound 

Lord Gosford, who seems to have been as- 
sailed by much violence and abuse, thought it 
necessary to declare that he was a Protestant — 
holding his property under a Protestant title, 
which, with the blessing of God, he was resolved 
to defend to the utmost of his power, — such was 
the spirit, or, perhaps, the necessity of the times. 
He then submitted a series of resolutions, two of 
which were as follows : 

u That it appears to this meeting, that the county of 
Armagh is at this moment in a state of uncommon dis- 
order ; the Roman Catholic inhabitants are grievously 
oppressed by lawless persons unknown, who attack and 
plunder their houses by night, and threaten them with 
instant destruction, unless they immediately abandon their 
lands and habitations/' 

u That the Committee of Magistrates shall use every 
legal means in their power to stop the progress of the per- 
secution now carrying on by an ungovernable mob against 
the Roman Catholic inhabitants of this county." 

Such was the state of the north of Ireland under 
Lord Camden's administration, — such the result 
of recalling Lord Fitzwilliam, and changing the 
system of government. In truth, Mr. Pitt seemed 
to have abdicated the function of minister, and 
evinced a reckless and unpardonable carelessness 
with regard to Ireland ; and having first deceived 


the people, he left them a prey to the discord 
his supporters had fermented. The account by- 
Lord Gosford may seem almost incredible, and 
many may imagine that passion and prejudice 
might have coloured or exaggerated the facts, 
and that Government would not have permitted 
any body of magistrates so far to neglect their 
duties. But in confirmation of what Lord Gosford 
said, an evidence has of late appeared, — an eye- 
witness of the facts, and whose testimony may be 
considered impartial, given as it is after a lapse of 
time, when the anger and fury of the day has 
subsided, and when truth may fearlessly be 
told, with a probability of being believed. An 
officer of the 24th Light Dragoons, whose regi- 
ment was sent to the north of Ireland in 1795, 
thus writes : 

To the Editor of the Globe. 

Newmarket, October 19, 1839. 
n § IR ###### 

" As a cornet in the 24th Light Dragoonsf, then 
commanded by the late Lord Wm. Bentinck, I accom- 
panied the regiment to Ireland in 1795. We disembarked 
at Dublin, and proceeded to Clonmel, from whence, in the 
autumn of that year, a squadron was suddenly ordered, in 
consequence of the disturbed state of the country, to pro- 
ceed to Armagh. To this squadron I was attached. Very 
shortly after our arrival, the Caithness Highlanders, com- 
manded by Sir Thomas, then Major Molyneux, relieved a 
regiment of Irish militia stationed at Armagh. The county 
of Armagh was then in a very disturbed state, arising from 
the feuds between the Protestant and Catholic population, 
unhappily too much encouraged by the dominant party ; but 
of these religious dissensions the Orange Societies, fos- 
tered and encouraged by the father of the present Colonel 
Verner, had their origin. The avowed object of the Protes- 
tant party was to drive the Catholics out oj the country. 

" In the course of the following year, the whole regiment 
took up its quarters at Armagh, and the neighbourhood. 
It so happened that I commanded a detachment of the 
f The name is in the Army List of that year. 


regiment at Loughall, in the very centre of that part of the 
county of Armagh where the disturbances most prevailed, 
and not very far distant from the spot where the Battle of the 
Diamond took place. There I remained several months, and 
during that period £ had witnessed the excesses committed by 
the Orange party, who now began to form themselves into 
lodges, and the dreadful persecutions to which the Catholic 
inhabitants were subjected. Night after night I have seen 
the sackings and burnings of the dwellings of these poor 
people. And notwithstanding the active exertions of the 
Sovereign of Armagh, under whose orders the military 
frequently scoured the country, our movements were so 
closely watched, that these depredations were continued 
almost with impunity. When we arrived at a burning 
dwelling, the perpetrators had fled across the country, and 
their course could only be traced by the fires they left in 
their progress. 

"Many of the Orangemen, however, notwithstanding 
the secrecy with which they conducted their proceedings, 
were discovered on private information, and brought to 
trial. But most of them, through the influence of their 
party, escaped, either altogether or with slight punishment. 

" In one case, a most atrocious one, a man had been 
sentenced to death ; this man's sentence was respited. 
And I well remember the whole country round being illu- 
minated with bonfires in manifestation of the joy of the 
Orangemen on that occasion. The result was an increased 
measure of persecution : many poor families were driven from 
their homes, their dwellings burnt, and themselves obliged to 
take shelter among their Catholic brethren in Connaught. 
These outrages were not unfrequently accompanied with 

" I may mention one of these dreadful scenes, of which 
I was myself an eye-witness, during our nightly patrol. 
We had already reached a heap of burning ruins, when a 
shot was heard apparently about a quarter of a mile from 
the fire. On proceeding to the spot we discovered a dying 
man, whom the miscreants had shot in his house, in their 
retreat from the fire. They had fired through the window 
into the room where the man was sitting with his family. 
The poor fellow died a few minutes after our arrival. 

" It is impossible for me to describe, at this distance of 
time, the horrors and atrocities I witnessed during that 
period, which Major Molyneux describes as being without 



disturbance. Indeed, such was the state of the county of 
Armagh, that our regiment was quartered in the different 
mansions of the gentry of the county. 

" Mr. O'Sullivan states that the Battle of the Diamond 
broke the neck of the Irish rebellion. It so happened 
that I was quartered at Market-hill, the house of Lord 
Gosford, when the rebellion of 1798 broke out, and I can 
positively assert, and I appeal to the history of those times, 
that the Catholics had no share in the disturbances of that 
period, at least in the north of Ireland. 

" The rebellion, it is well known, was brought out by the 
United Irishmen, who were none of them Catholics; and 
not one of the leaders who were convicted and executed in 
the counties of Down and Antrim were of that creed. On 
the contrary, when the troops assembled at Castle Dawson, 
under General Knox, a most active magistrate, a resident 
in that town, Mr. Sheil, who with his sons, were in a corps 
of yeomanry, and took a most decided part in the sup- 
pression of the rebellion, were Roman Catholics. 

An Old Officer of Cavalry. 

This letter was written in consequence of the 
proceedings of some Irish Protestant clergymen, 
who of late years had gone to England to attend pub- 
lic meetings, and abused the religion of the people 
of Ireland. Some false charges having been 
made by them respecting the Catholics, the officer 
who had been present at the transactions alluded 
to, thought it an act of justice to the Irish to 
state the circumstances as they came to his know- 
ledge, and accordingly he published the foregoing- 
letter. In the debate on the Insurrection Act, in 
February, 179C, Mr. Grattan also described the 
conduct of the Orangemen. 

"He had received the most dreadful accounts; that 
their object was the extermination of all the Catholics of 
that country. It was a persecution conceived in the bit- 
terness of bigotry, carried on with the most ferocious bar- 
barity, by a banditti, who, being of the religion of the 
State, had committed with the greater audacity and con- 
fidence, the most horrid murders, and had proceeded from 
robbery and massacre to extermination ; they had re- 

238 mr. grattan's speech on the [chap. VIII. 

pealed, by their own authority, all the laws lately passed 
in favour of the Catholics, had established in the place of 
those laws the inquisition of a mob, resembling Lord 
George Gordon's fanatics, equalling them in outrage, and 
surpassing them far in perseverance and success. 

" Their modes of outrage were as various as they were 
atrocious ; — they sometimes forced by terror the masters 
of families to dismiss their Catholic servants ; — they some- 
times forced landlords by terrors to dismiss their Catholic 
tenantry ; — they seized as deserters numbers of Catholic 
weavers, sent them to the county gaol, transmitted them 
to Dublin, where they remained in close prison, until some 
lawyers, from compassion, pleaded their cause, and pro- 
cured their enlargement, nothing appearing against them 
of any kind whatsoever. Those insurgents, who called 
themselves Orange Boys, or Protestant Boys — that is, 
a banditti of marauders, committing massacre in the name 
of God, and exercising despotic power in the name of 
liberty ; — those insurgents have organized their rebellion, 
and have formed themselves into a committee, who sit and 
try the Catholic weavers and inhabitants, when appre- 
hended, falsely and illegally as deserters ; this rebellious 
committee they call the Committee of Eiders, who, when 
the unfortunate Catholic is torn from his family and his 
loom, and brought before them, sit in judgment upon his 
case ; if he gives them liquor or money, they sometimes 
discharge him ; otherwise, they send him then to a 
recruiting-office as a deserter. They had very generally 
given the Catholics notice to quit their farms and dwellings, 
which notice is plastered on their houses, and conceived in 
these short but plain words, — " Go to hell! Conna tight 
will not receive you— fire and faggot ! — Will Thresham and 
John Thrustout." They followed these notices by a faith- 
ful and punctual execution of the horrid threat, soon after 
visited the house, robbed the family, and destroyed what 
they did not take ; and, finally, completed the atrocious 
persecutions, by forcing the unfortunate inhabitants to 
leave their land, their dwellings, and their trade, and to 
travel with their miserable family, and with whatever their 
miserable family could save from the wreck of their houses 
and tenements, and take refuge in villages as fortifications 
against invaders, where they described themselves, as I 
have seen in their affidavits, in the following manner : — 
1 We, (mentioning their names,) formerly of Armagh, 


weavers, now of no fixed placed of abode, or means of 
living,' 5 &c. In many instances this banditti of persecu- 
tion threw down the houses of the tenantry, or what they 
call, racked the house, so that the family must fly or be 
buried in the grave of their own cabin. The extent of the 
murders that have been committed by this atrocious and 
rebellious banditti, I have heard, but have not heard them 
so ascertained as to state them to this House ; but from all 
the enquiries I could make, I collect that the Catholic 
inhabitants of Armagh have been actually put out of the 
protection of the laic ; that the magistrates have been supine 
or partial, and that the horrid banditti has met with complete 
success, and from the magistracy with very little discourage- 
ment. This horrid persecution, this abominable barbarity, 
and this general extermination, have been acknowledged 
by the magistracy, who, finding the evil had now pro- 
ceeded to so shameful an excess, that it at length obliged 
themselves to cry out against it, came to the following 
resolution,* which is an evidence of the designs of the 
insurgents, and of their success." 

Such is the account given by Mr. Grattan of 
the Orangemen. Their violent conduct assisted 
greatly the United Irishmen ; and in the memoirf 
given to Government by Messrs. O'Connor, Em- 
mett, and M'Neven, in 1798, the latter states 
that 44 they were most exceedingly indebted to the 
persecution by the Orange faction, as the Catholics 
began to think they had no refuge but in joining the 

In the autumn and winter of 1795, the De- 
fenders spread rapidly from the north, and their 
principles tainted even the county of Dublin and 
the metropolis. The test of the confederacy con- 
tained an injunction of fidelity to the King, but of 
implicit obedience to their leaders ; they appeared 
in arms in large bodies, attacked houses, and 
plundered them of their arms ; waylaid and fired 
at magistrates, assassinated witnesses, and com- 

* See page 234. 

t Detailed statement of the origin and progress of the Irish Union, 
delivered to the Irish Government, — page 5. 


menced a horrid civil war. Government formed 
two camps, one at the Naul, the other at Lough- 
linstown, seven miles south of Dublin ; the latter 
was continued throughout the winter. Lord Car- 
hampton, at the desire of Government, proceeded 
to the west to quell the disturbances ; he went 
before the judges, and opened the gaols; and» 
without any form of trial, or any warrant but on 
his own order, took out the prisoners, and sent 
them on board the fleet, — a tender sailed along 
the coast to receive them. Several magistrates 
apprehended numbers of persons and committed 
them to gaol on informal warrants ;* they followed 
the example, and rivalled the conduct of Lord 
Carhampton, without the pretence of a military 
commission, and assumed the power of transport- 
ing the king's subjects without trial, sentence, or 
condemnation. Some of these victims were tied 
upon cars and carried away, weeping in bitter 
agony, and crying aloud for trial. It was stated 
that upwards of one thousand persons were thus 
illegally taken up and transported. In some cases 
writs of Habeas Corpus were applied for, and 
granted by the judges, who could not but admit 
the illegality of these proceedings ; some indi- 
viduals, more spirited than the rest, threatened re- 
prisals, and sought to punish, as they well deserved, 
the perpetrators of such violent and arbitrary mea- 
sures. Actions at law were commenced, Govern- 
ment interposed, and Parliament stopped them. 
These proceedings, far from affording any tempo- 
rary relief, greatly inflamed the minds of the people, 
and aggravated public calamity. In December the 
Government tried the Defenders for high treason ; 

* One of Lord Carhampton's warrants ran thus : — " Receive the body 
of Oliver Corbally, charged with high treason. — To the gaoler, &c." And 
as if to reward him for his conduct, he was appointed Commander-in- 
Chief in the following year, October, 1796. 


they succeeded in the case of James Weldon, on 
very slender testimony (one witness only was re- 
quired on such cases in Ireland); they failed 
against several others, and the remaining trials 
were put off to the ensuing year. Such were the 
calamities of Ireland at the present moment : un- 
fortunately they were not completed, and proved 
but the forerunners of others still greater, and 
more deplorable. 

England, at this period, was not tranquil : 
the King had been fired at on his way to 
open the Parliament, on the 3rd of Novem- 
ber, 1795; the Habeas Corpus Act was sus- 
pended ; the Seditious Meetings Bill had passed ; 
the public mind in that country was greatly con- 
vulsed, and its impressions were quickly commu- 
nicated, and too readily caught by a sensitive and 
an injured community, so that every symptom 
appeared unfavourable for the tranquillity of Ire- 
land. The loss of popular measures ; the recall 
of a popular Viceroy ; the cruel treatment of the 
Catholics in the north ; the illegal measures of the 
magistrates, and their violation of the laws and 
constitution of the country, drove the people to 
the extreme of despair. But the bitter cup of 
Irish affliction was not yet filled ; Parliament had 
yet to assemble ; and when it met, it sanctioned, 
nay, it commended, this illegal violence ; it ex- 
tolled the authors ; it excused the perpetrators ; 
more, it indemnified them ! ! ! 

Parliament met in January, 1796. The speech 
from the throne adverted to the seditious and 
treasonable associations in the country. Mr. G rat- 
tan, desirous to avoid all vexatious opposition, 
merely submitted, by way of amendment, a pro- 
position regarding the commerce of the country ; 
namely, that Irish manufactures should be ad- 
mitted into Great Britain on terms as advantageous 




as those on which British manufactures were 
admitted into Ireland ; this, though reasonable, 
was rejected by 122 to 14. The numbers on 
this division showed the state of parties in the 
House ; the Opposition, in fact, had vanished with 
Lord Fitzwilliam, and never again rallied. Go- 
vernment, thus encouraged, proceeded in conse- 
quence headlong, and introduced what was called 
" A vigour beyond the law," sweeping every thing 
before them, and leading captive an obsequious 
Parliament, and a furious and prostrate people. 
They passed an Insurrection Bill to prevent the 
peasantry being out of their houses after sunset 
and before sunrise, and an Indemnity Bill to ab- 
solve all magistrates from their illegal acts — it 
might be called, a bill to protect Lord Carhampton; 
Mr. Grattan moved that the judges who had gone 
circuit in the disturbed counties should attend at 
the bar, and give evidence as to the necessity of 
the Indemnity Bill ; but this was rejected without 
a division. On the 20th of February, the Attor- 
ney-General (Wolfe) proposed four resolutions 
declaratory of the disturbed state of the country, 
and the necessity of granting more effectual 
powers to the magistrates. As these resolutions 
alluded only to the Defenders, Mr. Grattan pro- 
posed some amendments respecting the proceed- 
ings of the Orangemen, and the outrages they had 
committed on the Catholics ; but these also were 
rejected without a division. On this subject Lord 
Edward Fitzgerald expressed his opinion in an 
open and manly manner ; and as he very shortly 
afterwards was unfortunately implicated in the 
conspiracy which he then deprecated, his speech 
is worth recording. The sentiments were just, 
and the advice was proper : — 

Sir, — I shall oppose this resolution, because I think 
that this resolution will not prevent the crimes of which 




the right honourable gentleman complains. The distur- 
bances of the country, Sir, are not to be remedied by any 
coercive measures, however strong. Such measures will 
tend rather to exasperate than to remove the evil. Nothing, 
Sir, can effect this and restore tranquillity to the country, 
but a serious and candid endeavour of Government and of 
this House, to redress the grievances of the people. Re- 
dress those, and the people will return to their allegiance 
and their duty. Sutler them to continue, and neither your 
resolutions nor your bills will have any effect. I shall 
therefore, Sir, oppose not only this resolution, but all the 
resolutions which the right hon. gentleman has read to you, 
except, perhaps, one — that which goes to constitute the 
written testimony of a dying witness, good evidence. This, 
I think, is fair, and likely to facilitate the course of jus- 
tice, without violently infringing, as all the other resolu- 
tions seem to do, the liberty of the subject. 

The resolutions were passed — the Insurrection 
Bill followed. Mr. Grattan vainly attempted to 
get it recommitted and amended. All his efforts, 
and those of Messrs. Ponsonby, Curran, Fletcher, 
Jephson, and Sir Lawrence Parsons proved un- 
availing. Thus the magistrates were enabled to 
declare any county in a state of insurrection ; to 
break open houses at any hour to search for arms ; 
to arrest and send on board the king's fleet any 
one whom they suspected, and imprison every 
man whom they found out of his house between 
sun- set and sun-rise; — and this at a time when 
the illegal acts of the magistracy rendered it ne- 
cessary to bring in a bill of indemnity to screen 
them from prosecution and punishment. Mr. 
Curran gave the appropriate designation to 
those acts, when he termed them " A Bloody 
Code !" 

On the 15th of April, 1796, Parliament was 
prorogued. Lord Camden, in the speech from 
the throne, stated that " the vigorous measures 
adopted to suppress insurrection and outrage pro- 
mised the most salutary consequences, and would 


demonstrate to the people the firmness and temper 
of Parliament ; — that all were equally interested in 
the common cause of upholding their religion, their 
laws, and their Constitution ;" but he forgot that 
the religion of the people his partisans had grossly- 
reviled, the laws his officers had daringly broken, 
and the Constitution they had openly violated : 
one portion still remained — the Habeas Corpus 
Act had not yet been suspended ; but when Par- 
liament met, that bar was removed. Thus the 
people, by their violence and outrage, armed the go- 
vernment with arguments and weapons to put down 
public liberty, and destroy every vestige of a free 
Constitution ; and, always the surest instruments 
of their own servitude, they laid, during the go- 
vernment of Lord Camden, the foundation of that 
tyranny which was completed under Lord Corn- 
wallis. Still they were not aware of the deep ma- 
lignity of their oppressors, and that Mr. Pitt and 
his equally cruel and cold-hearted Viceroy would 
go much farther,— hand over the people to the 
lash, and to tortures, and tolerate a system of 
bloodshed that savages would have been dis- 
graced by ! 

While we condemn the violent and outrageous 
conduct of the Defenders, the condition of the 
peasantry should be taken into account ; for it is 
to be observed that the lot of the great mass of 
the lower orders was wretched in the extreme ; 
and although this could be no palliation for their 
offences, yet it should have claimed for them from 
the higher classes some care and consideration. 
The absence of the great English landed pro- 
prietary, and the want, in a considerable degree, 
of a resident gentry, — the slow progress which 
manufactures made, and which were confined prin- 
cipally to the north of Ireland, kept the working 
classes in a state of great depression. Their 


wretched situation had been strongly depicted in 
the debates on the tithe question of 1788 and 89, 
when Mr. Grattan made repeated and memorable 
exertions for their relief. On this occasion Lord 
Clare (then Attorney-general) represented the 
condition of the lower orders as most abject and 
degraded, and stated that they were absolutely 
" ground to powder yet, notwithstanding such a 
declaration from such a leading member of the 
Government, and now grown so powerful, no 
effort was ever made for their relief ; and even the 
project of opening the splendid river (the Shan- 
non), that certain, and, perhaps, future great em- 
porium of wealth, though urged upon Parliament 
and Government, was wholly disregarded. This 
subject now attracted the attention of the Oppo- 
sition, and an effort was made to show the people 
that while Parliament was determined to punish 
their offences, it was not insensible to their dis- 
tress, nor careless to provide a remedy. Mr. 
Curran, on the 28th of January, moved for a 
committee to enquire into the state of the pea- 
santry and the prices of labour. He spoke very 
ably for two hours and a half ; he was supported 
by Mr. Grattan, and by Mr. Jephson, who de- 
livered an excellent speech, full of research, and 
replete with sentiments of justice and humanity. 
All was vain. The motion for the relief of the 
poor was rejected by 127 to 16; while that for 
a bill to indemnify the magistrates for their illegal 
conduct, passed on the same night without a 
division ! ! 

The Whig Club, that of late had been tranquil, 
and remained inactive, through a desire not to 
inflame the minds of the people, thought proper 
to interfere and take up the case while a ray of 
hope remained, and before matters should come 
to extremities. They produced a report on the 


condition of the Irish peasantry, which, as it con- 
tains some curious and interesting statements, is 
here subjoined.* 

Tuesday, 12th July, 1796. 

* At a meeting of the Whig Club, held this day, the Right Hon. Henry 
Grattan in the Chair, the following Report was received from the Com- 
mittee appointed to Enquire into the State of the Labouring Poor, which 
was agreed to by the Club, and leave given them to sit again. 

Resolved, That it appears to this committee, that in many parts of 
this kingdom, during the last winter and spring, the price of labour 
continued to be not more than 6d. per day; and in the same places, and 
at the same time, the price of oatmeal was not less, but often considera- 
bly more than 18d. a stone, and that of potatoes not less, but often con- 
siderably more than 3%d. per stone, and that at such rates of provi- 
sion, 6d. a day was insufficient for the support of the labourer and his 

That it appears to this committee, that in several counties the common 
price of potatoes, for the last three years, at an average, was not less than 
3c?. per stone, and that of oatmeal not less than \5d , and that in those 
parts the average price of labour the year round is not more than 76?. 
per day ; and that according to those rates of provisions, 7d. a day is 
not sufficient for the support of the labourer and his family. 

That it appears to this committee, that there is in many parts of those 
counties a description of labourer called the cottier, who pays from 305. 
to 40s. for his house and garden, and from 306*. to 40s. for the grazing of 
his cow, and who receives on an average but from 5d. to 6d. per day, 
which, in our opinion, is very inadequate to provide for the support of 
himself and family. 

That it appears to this committee, that in some other parts of this 
kingdom the price of labour has considerably risen, but that in these 
parts the price of land and of provisions, as elsewhere, have risen, yet 
the price of labour has not, and that said deficiency is not supplied by 
employment in manufacture. 

Your committee beg leave to suggest that it would be highly advan- 
tageous in those parts where the peasantry are distressed, which we are 
sorry to say are numerous, if the gentlemen would think proper to form 
committees in each barony or district, to meet for the purpose of con- 
sidering the state of the labouring poor ; and, among other plans that 
may occur, to raise in some instances the price of labour, to equalize in 
time of dearth the price of provision, and pay the difference between 
the ordinary and extraordinary charge; to advance, if necessary, money 
to purchase the materials of manufacture, and to secure a market for the 
work when manufactured, and to procure relief and medicine in case of 
sickness. That we conceive various new objects of benefit, and new 
sources of employment would present themselves to such committees 
when once formed, being in the nature of voluntary overseers of the 
poor, an existing body ready to avail themselves of every new discovery, 
to form plans occasionally of charitable loans, and capable of directing 
not only the attention, but the taste of the rich to the state of the poor, 
so that the rich will perhaps consider themselves interested in the ap- 
pearance of their tenants and labourers, and hold the improvement of 
the cottage, the cottage garden, and its inhabitants, as an essential part 


On the 13th of October, 1796, Parliament again 
assembled, in consequence of the apprehension 
of an invasion from France. Lord Camden in- 

of the improvement of their grounds ; and thus their seats may appear 
the growth of plenty diffused, and not the solitary instances of wealth in 
the midst of wretchedness, at once its neighbour and its reproach. That 
•we conceive, in the parts referred to, the increase of the price of labour 
the more reasonable ; not only because there has been a considerable in- 
crease in the price of provisions, but also in the pay and salaries of 
almost every other description of men : that within these some years last 
past, the salaries of the servants of Government have increased not a 
little : that the pay of the common soldier has been increased ; and on 
the same principle on which his Majesty has been advised to attend to 
his forces, we should follow the example, and pay some attention to our 
fellow-subjects; that it would be extraordinary that the only order of 
the people, whose wages were not increased in any proportion or extent, 
■was that order by whose labour and industry those salaries and esta- 
blishments were principally fed. That such an increase is the more 
reasonable and the more feasible, because the prices in the produce of 
land, as well as the rents of land have increased considerably, and en- 
abled the landholder and farmer to increase the price of labour. That we 
should further consider that in Ireland there is no poor-rate, which in 
England is about 2,000,000/. a-year, but that there is a great dearth of 
manufacture; a great absentee property, and a number of interests press- 
ing on one and the same holding, and helping to impoverish each other, 
and the land ; and that if we cannot controul the ill-consequences which 
proceed from these causes, we should apply with more industry to those 
causes which we can controul, and by controlling which we may di- 
minish the ill effects of the others, with the greater propriety and con- 
fidence, we hope, because in sundry parts of this kingdom, and in some 
parts of the districts referred to, the experiment has been made. The 
price of the peasant's labour has been increased, much to the credit of 
the individual, and the advantage of the neighbourhood, which experi- 
ment proves, that the relief of the poor is not what it has been men- 
tioned to be by those who are indisposed to the question, and wish to 
embarrass this, as other public questions, " a matter extremely difficult, 
and even impossible." That we do hope nothing more is necessary 
than to call the attention of gentlemen to the subject ; certain as we are 
that there is in general much humanity in this kingdom, which only 
requires to be brought into action; that we beg to observe, that as the 
price of labour does not regularly rise with the price of provisions, so 
neither will it raise the same ; but if the price of labour should increase 
the quantity of labour, it will tend to diminish the price of provisions, 
by increasing their quantity also ; that there can be no doubt that the 
labourer partakes of the nature of every other animal, and if well fed 
will outwork the labourer who is half starved, and that it is probable 
what is advanced in wages, will be repaid in labour, and this mode of 
enabling the labourer to do more work, may be compared to the dis- 
covery of a new mechanic power in the art of husbandry. That we beg 
leave to observe that the peasantry of this country have left us no ex- 
cuse for neglecting them, inasmuch as they do not appear to be the 
cause of their own poverty; that, on the contrary, the evil appears to 



formed the House that, owing to the vigorous 
measures adopted, outrages had been in a great 
degree suppressed, but " that a treasonable system 

proceed, not from the want of workmen, but the want of wages sufficient 
for their subsistence; that the comparative quantity of work is small in 
many places, in proportion to the number of hands ready to work, 
which is an evidence of a disposition to industry, and the proof of the 
will to labour, and the want of work; that the frequent emigrations of 
labourers to England for work ; the quantity of labour produced at 
task-work ; the excellence of the linen manufacture in some parts of this 
kingdom ; the progress of tillage in others, are, to the charge of sloth 
made against the Irish, a complete and practical refutation ; — a proof 
that such idle charge,, is the effect of lazy pride and lazy folly in those 
who have nothing to do, but to reproach those who have little to eat, 
and get that little by hard labour, — a charge generally coming from 
those who have no knowledge of the country, or interest therein, save 
only the salaries they receive out of it, and who are themselves one of 
her grievances, a great obstacle to her redress, and a cause of her discon- 
tent. That it appears likewise that the poverty of the peasant does not 
proceed from the sloth of his family, but that the poverty of both him 
and his family does, in a great degree, proceed from the want of manu- 
factures, which is the effect of prohibitions heretofore laid on our trade, 
which prohibitions still exist in their consequences, and have not 
ceased to operate on the people of this country, and their markets at 
home as well as abroad ; that from the consequent want of manufacture 
in many parts, the quantity of work is little, and the price of labour, of 
course, low, — so that the children cannot get a livelihood by manufac- 
ture, nor the father a sufficient livelihood by labour; that it does not 
appear to us how the family can at all times obtain money to purchase 
materials for spinning, nor command at all times a market for the sale 
of their work ; and that from these causes above all, and not from na- 
tural propensities, appear to proceed the misery and dirt observed 
among some of the poorer classes of the Irish, so disgraceful to their 
betters and not to themselves; for, on a fair consideration of their 
state, it appears impossible for them in many districts to obtain even 
sufficient subsistence for their families, and still less those changes of 
clothes necessary for cleanliness, or that quantity or kind of furniture 
and bedding which is at once essential to cleanliness and health. 

Under the influence of these considerations, we are not deterred from 
this inquiry by the objection, that inquiries into the state of the labouring 
poor, with a view to their relief, are measures of inflammation ; that, on 
the contrary, if a neglect to investigate their condition could administer 
content and satisfaction, the experiment has been tried without any good 
effect whatsoever. That we do conceive the labouring poor are perfectly 
well acquainted with their own poverty, and that our cheerful acqui- 
escence in the same would not be a means of secresy any more 
than of relief. That the only objection in such inquiries could be 
founded in the impossibility of finding out the remedy, but that we 
do conceive among the various remedies which humanity and attention 
may and must discover, there is one very obvious and very applicable 
to the cases we have submitted, namely, an increase in the price of 
labour. That we know from experience, that unless such subjects are 



of secret confederation, by administering illegal 
oaths, still continued, though Government had left 
no means untried to counteract it." The outrages 
on the Catholics in Armagh were left unnoticed. 
Nothing of conciliation was proposed, and reform 
and emancipation seemed consigned to oblivion. 
Mr. Vesey and Colonel Bagwell moved and 
seconded the address. Mr. Grattan moved an 
amendment " To represent to His Majesty that 
the most effectual method for strengthening the 
country, and promoting unanimity, was to take 
such measures, and to enact such laws, as would 
ensure to all His Majesty's subjects the blessings 
and privileges of the Constitution without any dis- 

pressed in contempt of such objections, in no instance would this coun- 
try have found redress for any grievance whatsoever. That the inquiry 
appears to us more seasonable, because a system of relief should accom- 
pany a system o f coercion, and the strong measures hitherto adopted, esta- 
blish the necessity of remedial measures also, in order at once to controul 
the spreading of the evil, and to remove in future the grounds of ever 
resorting again to such a system of coercion. That nothing, in our 
opinion, could render inquiries of this sort entirely abortive, unless it 
should be the revival of outrages ; that in all those the offenders have 
shown as much weakness and folly as ferocity, and have held out a useful 
instruction to the common people, that when any of the poorer orders of the 
people shall turn a banditti, ttuy will be ever found weak and contemptible, 
their insurrection will be disappointed, and disappointed insurrection will 
be the cause of new systems of puins and penalties. But that, at any time, 
more especially now, the country being quiet, the case of the Irish pea- 
santry should become a matter of consideration, especially when the 
state of the paupers of Dublin has excited the attention of the Govern- 
ment; that we must applaud that good system of public care in this 
instance, but we should think it creates the necessity of extending the 
consideration beyond beggars; that it would be extraordinary indeed 
to cherish those only who live by charity, and to pass by those who live 
by labour, and by whose labour we live also ; that to make the idle 
work, and the beggar to support himself, is in a high degree useful and 
commendable ; that to support the labourer and to make the industrious 
flourish is in a still higher degree useful and commendable; and that 
in our opinion, the best measure is to attain the two objects, to make 
idleness labour, and labour prosper; that we wish to press this subject, 
especially now, in order to unite all orders of men by the communica- 
tion of good offices, and by an exercise of public care, so that the rich 
may manifest their utility and virtue, and extend over the lower orders 
their influence and ascendancy, and establish by good offices a kind of 
mild and voluntary jurisdiction : thus will the higher orders be fami- 
liarized to give, and the lower to receive, and both be endeared to one 



tinction of religion." This was seconded by Mr. 
B. Ponsonby, and was strongly supported by Mr. 
Curran, Mr. Geo. Ponsonby, Mr. Fletcher, and 
Mr. Duquery ; it was, however, rejected by 149 
to 12 — so reduced were the numbers of the Oppo- 
sition — so strong the party against the people ! 
Some extracts from Mr. Grattan's speech deserve 
more attention on account of the critical and 
eventful period at which they were delivered. 
Alluding to the war, and the Continental coa- 
lition, — 

"He observed on the successes of the Austrians, which, 
he said, were as brilliant as they were seasonable ; but he 
requested the House to consider the situation of the empire 
notwithstanding those successes — Italy conquered ; the 
left bank of the Rhine at present in the hands of France — 
Savoy annexed — the Alps and the Rhine her boundary — 
the confederacy (the Emperor only excepted) dispersed — 
the Spaniard in alliance with France, probably at war 
with England — the British excluded from the ports of 
Europe — the fall of the funds — and the durable and con- 
solidated state of the French Republic, with great addition 
of territory and alliance — that this appears to be the case 
on the comparative view of the campaign. But what was 
our situation, on the whole, of the war ? The loss of Hol- 
land — the deposition of the Stadtholder — the acquisition to 
France of the Belgic provinces, and a great part of Ger- 
many, accompanied with immense losses of men, and an 
increase of debt exceeding 100,000,000/. Having consi- 
dered the minister's ill success, he begged to contemplate 
the powers which were wasted on him. Father of Mercy ! 
what were they at the opening of the war ? And first : — 
All Europe, various in her views and various in her exer- 
tions — but there she was with immense armies in perfect 
discipline, pouring on a single country in a state of com- 
plete anarchy — there was beside the special exertion of the 
British empire : Parliament unbounded in its grants, unli- 
mited in its confidence, and as patient as it was profuse, 
bringing alternately to the Throne — Loan in one hand, 
and Liberty in the other. There was the city of London, 
with her Amalthean Horn — there was the landed interest, 
with its fears ; and the commercial interest, with its confi- 



dence — there was the aristocracy, with whatever it pos- 
sessed of inert property and inert talent. Loans, votes of 
credit, anticipations, indemnity following anticipations, 
and following every encroachment on law, where Parlia- 
ment had omitted to legalize by anticipation, encroach- 
ment on liberty — that was everything, except the enthu- 
siasm of a military country. There was also Ireland — 
poor, plundered, ill-used, insulted, and forgiving Ireland — 
and though represented by the minions easily raised and 
easily put down, pouring into the fleets and armies until 
she was forced to leave herself without a soldier for her 
ministers' ill-fated and wide-wasting West India expe- 
dition, where those ministers, by their plan and their 
delay, supplied the place of plague, pestilence, and 
famine." # # # # 

Referring to the case of the Catholics, he said — 

"They scolded the people from the bar of the House of 
Commons — they had kicked their prayers after them ; 
they had instructed Grand Juries to publish denun- 
ciations against the Catholics — they had then taken up 
the Catholics — they had then resumed the Protestant 
ascendancy — again they had, taken up the Catholics, 
and again they had let them down — encouraging and 
maturing by alternate hope and apprehension, the zeal of 
the distinct sects — the blockhead's sense and the Court's 
deistical devotion, to unite under the crazy colours of reli- 
gious war and carnage — they had in the progress of their 
defeat promised a change of ministers and measures — they 
get a great supply — recal the minister for making the pro- 
mises under their own authority, and tell the Catholics, 
whom they had deceived, that they must for ever remain 
disqualified for seats in Parliament, and offices in the 
State, for the better securing the Crown and the connec- 
tion — the people petition — they had answered their grants 
by disappointment — they then answered their petitions by 
fencibles ; the army they had withdrawn when the French 
had threatened the country — and they pour it in when the 
people petition the Crown. The leading Catholics who 
had assisted in planning the petition to His Majesty, they 
had prosecuted, without colour or pretence, for high 
treason — the lower orders of the Catholics they give up to 
an armed mob, to be exterminated with violence — tri- 
umphant in a course of years, and put them out of the 



protection of the law : they do this, when by their mis- 
conduct abroad, they had reason to apprehend invasion at 
home, and when they had so reduced the army, that they 
had left His Majesty's Government no chance for its 
safety, but in what, I imagine, now must be its best 
security—the unanimity of his people. If ever this coun- 
try is lost to England, depend on it this system will be the 
cause. # # # * This country can only be saved by 
her own force, and her own force can only be procured by 
adopting the Catholics, and they can only be adopted by 
a total and entire change of maxims, measures, and man- 
ners, accompanied with a free and full participation of 
whatever privileges the constitution can boast, and what is 
infinitely more essential, whatever privileges the constitu- 
tion intended. This is the force, the power, the charm, 
the staff of your Saint, that will banish from your isle all 
noxious animals ; the wand that opens the sea to the 
English, and will wall it up against the French. Quick — 
very quick — you have not a moment to lose — you have 
given your fellow-subjects a share of your taxes, your 
defeats, and depopulation, kindly, very kindly — give them 
now a share of your blessings, whatever your ministers 
have left you. Let us make no more sacrifices of our 
liberties — let us now sacrifice our prejudices — they will 
ascend in incense, the best use you can make of them— and 
be a tiding to your God, that you are become a convert to 
your country/' 

The high-church party, during the debate, had 
congratulated themselves that Mr. Grattan was 
now at the close of his political life ; to which he 
replied — 

" He was told that he was at the close of his political life. 
He would borrow a few moments of that life to repeat the 
sentiment, and re-assert a claim dear to his heart, however 
reduced our number, however solitary our phalanx. It 
had been objected, that the Catholic claim should not have 
been made the amendment of an address. To such an objec- 
tion it was necessary to reply very little — claims of right, li- 
berties, and franchises, redress of grievances, and removal 
of abuses, did naturally belong to, and where Parliaments 
did their duty, were inseparable from addresses, prodigal 
and abundant with the offers of lives and fortunes ; that to 




the address under their consideration, such claim did more 
particularly belong, because it contained a new and further 
offer of life, in the enrolment of corps, which, if exclusive, 
were wicked, and if inclusive, unless freedom should accom- 
pany arms, were hazardous ; that it was particularly be- 
coming in those who were connected with Lord Fitzwil- 
liam's administration to make the amendment, because the 
plan of Catholic emancipation was a part of their plan of 
county armament ; and lastly, it was peculiarly seasonable 
now to advance the claim of the Catholic to sit in Parlia- 
ment, as we are on the eve of a general election, and the 
loss of this session is to the Catholic the loss of nine years : 
that he did allow, that precedents where the rights and 
franchises of the subject were made any part of an address 
to the Crown, were of late years few indeed ; that addresses 
of late were unconditional surrender, and unqualified sub- 
mission to every Minister, to any Minister, and to all 
Ministers ; that, however, in the perilous moments of the 
State there were precedents in favour of the people, and 
accordingly, in 1793, the Throne came a little nearer the 
condition of the people, and the speech, in extremes, recom- 
mended measures of reconciliation ; nor should I have been 
surprised had the speech of this session done the same ; if 
the changes of war were not to the minister of these 
countries, the change of sentiment, but that now, instead of 
reconciliation, gentlemen called for unanimity without it, 
that is, for a Parliamentary unanimity, instead of a national 
one ; that there might be, and he had often been a witness 
to two unanimities, namely, an unanimity in Parliament for 
loans — for taxes — for penal laws — for rejection of petitions 
— and for the unqualified surrender of the life, fortunes, 
and liberty of the subject; — but at the same time without 
doors an unanimity against those measures — unanimity for 
privileges — for emancipation — and for reformation ; that is 
to say, unanimity within doors for the Minister, and without 
doors unanimity against him ; frightful unanimities these, 
founded on one side in folly, in fear, in influence, in the 
little motive, and the puny gratification, in influences visible 
and invisible — founded on the other side in wounded pride, 
public principle, and public indignation, and which con- 
nected with the other, left the minister too strong for the 
nation, and too weak for the enemy. 

Referring to the imprudent declaration of Mr. 



Pelham (then Secretary, afterwards Lord Chi- 
chester), he observed : 

" If there was a language that could be called invitation* 
— if it were possible for an Irish member of Parliament to 
invite invasion — if it were possible for a member of this 
House to give encouragement in France beyond all example 
or imitation — there was the member who had done it — the 
Right Hon. Gentleman, the Lord Lieutenant's Secretary, 
the representative of the English Cabinet in Ireland, who 
had spoken as follows: ' The exclusion of Catholics from 
Parliament and the State, is necessary for the Crown and 
the connexion — that he is ready to meet the question now 
— that he was ready to support it with life and fortune.' 
This dreadful, this deadly, this wild, and this fatal pro- 
scription, when he is calling for volunteers to enrol in the 
service, what language, what denunciation^ what dictation 
could France have suggested more opportune in time, more 
pregnant in disaffection, or more authoritative in mischief? 
— his practical logic has been, that in time of apprehended 
invasion it is perilous to hold the language of reconciliation, 
and discreet to hold the language of proscription — eternal 
and indefeasible proscription ! denounced by a minister of 
the Crown, speaking to three-fourths of his Majesty's sub- 
jects. France knew perfectly well that she had gained 
Brabant, but she did not know till now that she had gained 
in the councils of the King of England — that fatal partizan, 
who, with the best intention in the world, could thus in his 
Majesty's dominions, and from his seat in Parliament, re- 
cruit for the French republic : the Member may rely on it, 
the Catholic — the Irish will not long submit to such an 
interdict; they will not suffer a stranger (amiable as the 
Right Hon. Member may be, he is but a stranger) to tell 
us on what proud terms English Government will consent 
to rule in Ireland, still less to pronounce and dictate the 
incapacity of the natives, as the terms of her dominion, 
and the base condition of our connection and allegiance. 
We love the monarchy, and we love the connexion, as 
compatible with, and instrumental to the preservation of 
Irish liberties — preferring our own liberties and our people 

* Mr. Grattan's foresight here appears remarkable; for Theobald 
Wolfe Tone actually used the debates and speeches of the Government 
party, with the French Executive Directory, as an inducement to invade 
the country, and a proof of probable success. 



of all religions, to all things, and to all other countries. 
Rely on it, the Ministry must retract that denunciation; I 
will hazard my credit that they shall retract that denun- 
ciation ; they have not the madness — they have not the 
audacity — they have not the power to abide by it. I would 
appeal to their own country against them, and implore that 
her dearest interest, and next to herself, her lost strength, 
the physical force of Ireland, may not be lost to Great Bri- 
tain by such abominable, unauthorized, senseless, and 
diabolic proscription. How much safer our plan of oppo- 
sition, as you call it, our amendment of conciliation, the 
only principle of peace and of strength ; with it you need 
not tremble at the sword of France, nor the pen of Paine — 
without it you will become a prey to any enemy — you will 
require to use the words of Lord Bolingbroke — neither the 
valour of an Achilles, nor the wisdom of a Nestor, nor the 
eloquence of an Ulysses to undo you ; Thersites himself 
will be sufficient for the purpose." 

The studied silence of Government as to the 
excesses of the Orangemen in Armagh, was de- 
serving of just condemnation ; and on that Mr. 
Grattan said : 

" He could not sit down without expressing how little 
satisfied he was with the excuses advanced for neglecting 
the religious war of Armagh ; he said Government had not 
exerted all the powers which the laws gave it; — had 
Government dismissed any of the magistrates ? Will 
Government say they had no ground for so doing? Will 
Government say that in a year and a half, with 40,000 sol- 
diers, and with summary laws, that would have enabled 
them to pull down the liberties of the whole island, that 
they could not reduce that county to order? I cannot but 
think the audacity of the mob arose from a confidence in 
the connivance of Government; under an administration 
sent here to defeat a Catholic bill, a Protestant mob very 
naturally conceives itself a part of the State, and exercises 
the power of life and death, and transportation, and murder, 
and rape, with triumph, and with the seeming sympathy 
of the court religion, the magistrates retire from the scene 
of action, except such as secretly foment, or openly encou- 
rage — the Government at last comes forward, recites and 
classes all the outrages of the country, that outrage only 


excepted — the prudent mover of certain resolutions confines 
himself merely to those murders which are unpopular at 
the Castle, and provides such remedies as have nothing to 
say to the North — the clause of compensation which pro- 
mised some relief, is proposed and rejected, and at the end 
of seven months, are we surprised to find in such a Govern- 
ment, that the violence which afflicts the Catholic has 
been suffered to continue ? Protection and proscription 
are incompatible; the Government that proscribes their 
privilege will not protect their person." 

Mr. Fletcher, that able and constitutional 
lawyer, whose independent character and con- 
duct, whether at the bar, in the senate, or on the 
bench, deserved and received the admiration of 
every lover of freedom, made great and spirited 
efforts in this debate in favour of the people. 
Curran, too, exerted himself, but in vain ; his 
conclusion was as follows : 

" A gentleman had said, the Catholics had got much, 
and they ought to be content. Why have they got that 
much ? — was it from the minister ? — was it from the Parlia- 
ment, which threw their petition over its bar? No, (said 
he,) they got it by the great revolution of human affairs — by 
the astonishing march of the human mind — a march that 
has collected too much moment in its advance to be now 
stopped in its progress. The bark is still afloat — it is 
freighted with the hopes and liberties of millions of men — 
she is already under way — the rower may faint, or the 
wind may sleep; — but rely upon it, she has already 
acquired an energy of advancement, that will support her 
course and bring her to her destination — rely upon it, 
whether much or little remains, it is now vain to withhold 
it — rely upon it, you may as well stamp your foot upon 
the earth, in order to prevent its revolution ; you could not 
stop it, you would only remain a silly gnomon upon 
its surface, to measure the rapidity of rotation, until 
you were forced round and buried in the shade of that 
body, whose irresistible course you would endeavour to 

The day after the debate, the Attorney-general 
(Wolfe), moved the suspension of the Habeas Cor- 


pus Act, which was carried, notwithstanding a 
strong opposition from Mr. Ponsonby, Mr. Flet- 
cher, and the small band that still remained 
attached to the liberties of their country. The 
numbers were 157 to 7 ! ! 

On the 17th, Mr. Grattan made a further at- 
tempt in favour of the Catholics, and proposed the 
following resolution : 

"That the admissibility of persons professing the Catho- 
lic religion to vote in Parliament is consistent with the 
safety of the Crown, and the connection of Ireland with 
Great Britain." 

Equitable and just as this appeared — harmless 
and simple as it certainly was, yet it was termed 
a " wicked, dangerous, and seditious proposition," 
and was rejected by 143 to 19. Here vanished 
the hopes of the Catholics, and the tranquillity of 
the country. Mr. Grattan exclaimed that he 
could not go along with the Attorney-general. 

" / know not where you are leading me— from one strong 
bill to another — until I see a gulf bejore me, at whose abyss I 
recoil. In it I see no safety — nothing but the absence of 
our dearest rights — the absence of the Habeas Corpus Act 
— the absence of civil liberty. Government have made it a 
question of passion as well as of power. Do you imagine 
there is any man who would prefer the wild schemes of 
republicanism to the sober blessings of the English consti- 
tution, if he enjoyed them ? What is the tree of Liberty ? 
It is sprinkled with the blood of kings and of nobles — 
some of the best blood of Europe ; but if you force your 
fellow-subjects from under the hospitable roof of the con- 
stitution, you will leave them, like the weary traveller, at 
length to repose under the dreadful tree of liberty. Give 
them therefore a safe dwelling — the good old fabric of the 
constitution, with its doors open to the community." 

This eloquence and reasoning was in vain. The 
mandate of the minister had been issued. No con- 
cessions were to be made — no terms were to be 
kept with the people — " vigour beyond the law" 

vol. iv. s 



(such was the expression), was the substitute for 
justice. Accordingly, Mr. Curran's motion on 
the 7th of November, to enquire into the out- 
rages committed on the Catholics in the county 
of Armagh was rejected. Parliament soon after 
adjourned to the ensuing year; and the nation 
that only two years before, in the time of Lord 
Westmoreland, was in such a state of safety as 
to be left with only 7,000 troops, was now con- 
sidered so insecure, with upwards of 80,000 re- 
gulars and militia, that Government found it 
necessary to arm the gentry and the chosen men 
of the community to guard against domestic dis- 
turbance and foreign invasion. They passed an 
act of Parliament to embody the yeomanry — a 
force that soon became exclusive in its character, 
imbued with party and religious prejudices, and 
proved to be, in some cases, the Scourge of the 

Thus was established the domination of the 
favoured sect ; and thus, embittered by local 
feuds, sharpened by resentment and revenge, 
under the abused term ' Loyalty,' the ferocious 
spirit of faction, which in every age and clime has 
committed the most frightful excesses, was now 
erected into a horrid, a frantic, and a sanguinary 



Wolfe Tone goes from America to France — Urges the invasion of Ire- 
land — French forces — their failure — Letter to Mr. Grattan, and 
despatch of Lord Lieutenant as to loyalty of Catholics — Measures in 
Irish Parliament — Military proceedings in 1797 — Imprisonments — 
Arthur O'Connor arrested — General Lake's proclamation — North of 
Ireland under military law — Mr. Grattan's motion negatived — 
Excesses of the soldiery — Mr. Fox's motion in British Parliament for 
lenient measures towards Ireland — Dr. Duigenan's motion against 
Mr. Fox — Arrest of United Irishmen at Belfast — Report of Secret 
Committee, May, 1797 — Number, arms, finances, and plan of Society 
— Its originators described by Dr. M'Nevin —Trial of United Irish- 
men — Curran's speech — Mr. Ponsonby's motion for reform and 
emancipation — The Opposition Members secede — Feeling in England 
and Ireland as to Mr. Pitt — Meetings and resolutions of the Irish in 
defence of their rights — The Lord Lieutenant and the soldiery stop 
them — Mr. Grattan declines to set up at the general election — 
Addresses his constituents — They resolve not to attend the hustings 
— He retires from the yeomanry — Goes to Castleconnell for his health 
— His letter to his fellow-citizens — Lord Clare attacks Lord Aid- 
borough and the leaders of the Opposition — Mr. Grattan defends 
them — Mr. Pitt disapproves of Lord Clare's conduct — Letter of Dr. 
Haliday to Lord Camden — Mr. Fox and the Bishop of Waterford to 
Mr. Grattan — His reply —Letters to Mr. Monck, Mr. M'Can, and the 
Reverend Mr. Berwick. 

On the Continent of Europe, Mr. Pitt's coalition 
had failed ; the allies were again unsuccessful. 
The star of Buonaparte rose in Italy. Spain de- 
clared against England. The violent proceedings 
of the Irish Government, together with French in- 
trigue, led to the 'invasion of Ireland. Early in 
February, 1796, Theobald Wolfe Tone (not how- 
ever deputed by the United Irishmen), landed in 
France from America.* He introduced himself 
to the French authorities. The members of the 

* Mr. Peter Burrowes, who well knew all the parties at that period, 
often assured me, that when Tone read in America the statements that 
Lord Clare made in his speeches as to Ireland, he took them with him, 
and immediately set off from the United States to Paris. " They were 
his credentials." 

s 2 



Executive Directory, — Carnot, the minister, and 
Clarke, the head of the war department, — and 
urged them to invade his country ; representing 
the people as willing to join the French, — ground- 
ing his chief and first reliance on the Dissenters of 
the North, on account of their republican princi- 
ples ; next, on the Catholic peasantry, on account 
of their ill treatment by Government ; last and 
least, on the Catholic clergy, whose neutrality he 
told General Hoche, might be secured if they avoided 
shocking their prejudices. He strove to substan- 
tiate the accuracy of his statements and opinions 
by referring to the acts of the Irish Government, 
the debates in the Trish Parliament, and the 
speeches of Lord Clare ; and when doubts were 
thrown upon his assertions, as to the feelings and 
disposition of the Irish, he quoted them as evi- 
dence of his veracity ; adding, that they were 
most likely to be true, as coming from an enemy 
who would have concealed the facts if he was 
able, being admissions of the weakness and dan- 
gers of the country. Tone thus convinced the 
Directory that they would have the Presbyterians ; 
and Lord Clare's speeches convinced them that 
they would have the Catholics ; so that the Lord 
Chancellor, by his violent acts, and extravagant 
charges against the people, was mainly instru- 
mental in aiding the enemy in the invasion of his 

It was not till late in the year that the plan was 
arranged, nor until the 15th of December that the 
expedition sailed from Brest ; so that its destina- 
tion was well known. It was under the com- 
mand of General Hoche, and consisted of seven- 
teen sail of the line, thirteen frigates, and seven 
corvettes, making, with transports, forty-three 
sail, having on board 15,975 soldiers, 41,160 
stand of arms, twenty pieces of artillery, nine 



pieces for siege, 61,200 barrels of powder, 
7,000,000 of ball cartridges, and 700,000 flints. 

Tone had urged very strongly that they should 
land in the North ; but the orders were to proceed 
to the South ; if separated to cruize off Mizen 
Head for five days, then go to the Shannon for 
three more, and if dispersed to return to Brest. 
On the 22nd they came off Bantry Bay, with 
twenty-five sail ; on the 23rd they separated in 
a violent storm ; — sixteen remained in Bantry 
Bay, twenty were driven to sea;* the Seduisant, 
with 550 soldiers, was lost the first night after 
leaving Brest. Hoche, who was on board the 
Fraternity, was separated from the fleet, and 
never appeared. Tone, who had got a com- 
mission in the French service, was in the In- 
domptable, of eighty guns : he urged Grouchy, 
the second in command, to land. A council of 
war was held on the 27th, when it appeared that 
their force was reduced to 4,168 men, two four- 
pounders, 1,500,000 cartridges, 500 rounds for 
the artillery, and 500 pounds of powder, — with- 
out a guinea, a tent, or a horse, — and the province 
in which they were to land was the only one of the 
four which had testified no disposition to revolt ! — 
Such is the account that Tone gave. The council 
naturally decided against landing ; and on the 
29th, the remains of the fleet returned to Brest. 
Thus was Ireland (whose security the Minister 
had neglected) saved by Providence from a most 
sanguinary war ; and here for the present termi- 
nated the efforts of Wolfe Tone's intrigues with 

* The Generals were Hoche, Grouchy, Harty, Simon, Humbert, 
Chaseloup, Cherin. It is singular that on two occasions Grouchy 
should have had almost in his hand the destinies of England, and provi- 
dentially not to have turned them against her ; in the present instance, 
when he waited for his commander who did not arrive, and he declined 
to land ; and at Waterloo, where his commander waited for him, and he 
did not appear. 


France, and the effects of Lord Clare's invectives 
against Ireland. 

Mr. Tone's work on this, and other subjects, is 
amusing, lively, and spirited. He writes un- 
friendly to the Whigs and Mr. Grattan, — pro- 
bably because Mr. Ponsonby had refused to 
trust him, and Mr. Grattan to recommend him 
when Lord Fitzwilliam was Viceroy. His diary 
affords a useful lesson to unquiet and discon- 
tented minds, and teaches man to adopt every 
alternative rather than take up arms against his 
country. He frequently exclaimed, in the bit- 
terness of anguish, despair, and regret, — " I wish 
our Revolution were ended, and I quietly set 
down in the bosom of my family." On one oc- 
casion, when he began to suspect the fidelity of 
the individual with whom he was negotiating, 
he breaks out — " Have I risked my life, ruined my 
prospects, left my family, and deserted my country to 
be baffled by a scoundrel ?" On returning to 
Brest, after the failure of the expedition, he 
gives way to the keenest emotions : — " I am now 
a Frenchman, and must regulate my future plans 
accordingly. I hope the Directory will not dis- 
miss me the service for this unhappy failure — in 
which, certainly, I have personally nothing to 
reproach myself with ; and in that case I shall be. 
rich enough to live as a peasant. If God Al- 
mighty sends me my dearest love and my dar- 
ling babies in safety, I will buy or rent a spot, and 
have done with the world for ever, I shall never 
be great, or famous, or powerful, but I may be 
happy ! /" 

Alas ! how many victims like him did not Mr. 
Pitt and Lord Clare make ! How many unfor- 
tunate men did they not drive from their happy 
homes, and peaceful families ! How great the 
calamities that resulted from Lord Fitzwilliam's 


recall, which these ministers entailed upon the 

The allusion made to this individual by a very 
distinguished person, Charles Bushe* (Chief 
Justice of Ireland) may here be introduced. On 
opposing Mr. Ponsonby's motion in 1797, to re- 
peal the Insurrection Act, he spoke of Wolfe 
Tone. " That unhappy man now wastes upon 
the desert air of an American plantation, the 
brightest talents that I ever knew man to be gifted 
with. I shall never speak or think of him with 
acrimony or severity. I knew him from early 
infancy, as the friend of my youth, and the 
companion of my studies ; and while I bear tes- 
timony to the greatness of his abilities, I shall 
also say of him, that he had a heart which nothing 
but the accursed spirit of perverted politics 
could mislead or deprave ; and I shall ever lament 
his fate with compassion for his errors, admiration 
for his talents, and abhorrence for his political 

Nothing could exceed the spirit of the yeomanry, 
who, from all quarters, volunteered their services, 
and marched to oppose the French. The only 
difficulty the Government found was to restrain 
their ardour. With respect to the peasantry, 
they were zealous in support of the troops. The 
Coloneljt of the Wicklow Militia often told me 
how nobly they behaved, — clearing away the 
snow, — harnessing* themselves to the guns, and 
drawing them through the difficult passes, they 
supplied the soldiers with bread, beer, and pro- 
visions, at their own expense. 

The following letter, from an eye witness, is 
inserted to show the feeling which animated them ; 
yet these were the Catholics whom Lord Clare 

• This able and talented individual has just retired from the bench, 
and is succeeded by Mr. Pennefather. 
t The late Colonel Howard. 



had stated, in his place in Parliament, would 
never be attached to England, or loyal to a Pro- 
testant Prince : — 


Cork j Wednesday, 6th January, 1797. 
Dear Sir, — You have no doubt heard of the alarming 
and critical state which the South of Ireland has been in 
for the last ten days ; and so contradictory and unsatisfac- 
tory, though always alarming, were the reports which were 
constantly in circulation, that no man could rely upon 
anything he heard ; — for example, a letter had been re- 
ceived by our Committee at three o'clock yesterday after- 
noon, from General Coote, from Dunmanway, stating that 
the French fleet had sailed from Bantry Bay. At seven 
o'clock General Stewart writes to the Mayor that General 
Coote has had information, and that the French ships had 
not sailed. Mr. Sullivan, who first gave information of 
the arrival of the French fleet off our coast, arrived here 
this morning from Bantry, which he left at eleven o'clock 
yesterday, and gave the following intelligence to the Com- 
mittee : — 

On Sunday last, from Bear Haven, he saw thirteen 
ships, some of them very large, lying at anchor off Bear 
Island, besides seven other vessels at anchor higher up the 
bay, near Whiddy Island. On Monday, in consequence 
of a signal made, he saw five of the seven ships off 
Whiddy set sail to join the thirteen lying off Bear Island. 
Yesterday morning, he ascended the high ground behind 
the town of Bantry, and saw but the two vessels which 
had been left near Whiddy. They appeared to him 
to be of seventy-four guns each, one without a bow- 
sprit, the other had lost her main-topmast, and he be- 
lieved they were unable to put to sea. The French who 
landed on Whiddy were in good health, and after walking 
about and shooting a few hares, for which the island is 
remarkable, embarked again, taking with them Mr. 
White's steward, who happens to be a remarkably good 

Nothing can exceed the zeal and good conduct of all 
descriptions of people in this part of the country, and I hope 
it will be considered as it deserves. 

I have the honour to be, dear Sir, wishing you many 
happy returns of the season, your most obedient humble 
servant, John Therry. 



The following despatch from the Lord Lieu- 
tenant still further confirmed the statement as to 
the excellent disposition of the people of the South 
of Ireland, and was a complete refutation of the 
calumnies uttered against the Catholics. 


Castle, January 10, 1797. 
I have the satisfaction to acquaint your Grace, that 
since the information transmitted to Mr. Greville, that 
the French had entirely left Bantry Bay, there has been 
no re-appearance of them upon the coasts ; so that I trust, 
from the violence of the tempest, and from their ships 
being ill-found and ill-victualled, their expedition is for the 
present frustrated. 

Upon reviewing what has passed in this expedition of 
the enemy, I have the satisfaction to reflect, that the best 
spirit was manifested by his Majesty's regular and militia 
forces ; and I have every reason to believe, that if a land- 
ing had taken place, they would have displayed the utmost 
fidelity. When the flank companies of the Antrim regi- 
ment were formed, the whole regiment turned out to a 
man, with expressions of the greatest eagerness to march ; 
and the Downshire regiment, to a man, declared they 
would stand and fall by their officers. 

At the time the army was ordered to march, the weather 
was extremely severe ; I therefore ordered them a propor- 
tion of spirits upon their route, and directed an allowance 
of fourpence a-day to their wives until their return. Dur- 
ing t/ieir march the utmost attention was paid them by the 
inhabitants of the towns and villages through which they 
passed ; so that in many places the meat piovided by the Com- 
toutary was not consumed. The roads, which had in parts been 
rendeied impassable by the snow, were cleared by the peasan- 
try. The poor people often shared their potatoes with them, 
and dressed their meat without demanding payment ; of which 
there was a very particular instance in the toicn of Banagher, 
where no gentleman or principal farmer resides to set them 
the example. At Carlow a considerable subscription was 
made for the troops as they passed ; and at Limerick and 
Cork every exertion was used to facilitate the carriage 
of artillery and baggage, by premiums to the carmen • and 
in the town of Galway, which for a short time was left 




with a very inadequate garrison, the zeal and ardour of the 
inhabitants and yeomanry was peculiarly manifested, and 
in a manner to give me the utmost satisfaction. In shorty 
the general good disposition of the people through the South 
and West ivas so prevalent , that had the enemy landed, their 
hope of assistance from the inhabitants would have been totally 

From the armed yeomanry, Government derived the 
most honourable assistance. Noblemen and gentlemen of 
the first property vied in exerting themselves at the head 
of their corps. Much of the express and escort duty was 
performed by them. In Cork, Limerick, and Galway, they 
took the duty of the garrison. Lord Shannon informs me, 
that men of 3,000/. and 4,000/. a-year were employed in 
escorting baggage and carrying expresses. 

Mr. John Latouche, who was a private in his son's 
corps, rode twenty-five miles in one of the severest nights, 
on express, it being his turn for duty. The merchants of 
Dublin, many of them of the first eminence, marched 
sixteen miles with a convoy of arms to the North, whither 
it was conducted by reliefs of yeomanry. The appearance 
in this metropolis has been highly meritorious. The corps 
have been formed of the most respectable barristers, attor- 
nies, merchants, gentlemen, and citizens, and their number 
is so considerable, and their zeal in mounting guard so 
useful, that I was enabled greatly to reduce the garrison 
with perfect safety to the town. The numbers of yeomanry 
fully appointed and disciplined in Dublin exceed two 
thousand, above four hundred of whom are horse. The 
whole number of corps approved by Government amounted 
to four hundred and forty, exclusive of the Dublin corps. 
The gross number is nearly twenty-five thousand. There 
are also ninety-one offers of service under consideration, 
and one hundred and twenty-five proposals have been 
declined ; and, in reply to a circular letter written to the 
commandants of the respective corps, their answers almost 
universally contained a general offer of service in any part 
of the kingdom. 

Many prominent examples of individual loyalty and 
spirit have appeared. A useful impression was made upon 
the minds of the lower Catholics by a judicious address 
from Dr. Moylan, the titular Bishop of Cork. I cannot 
but take notice of the exertions of Lord Kenmare, who 
spared no expence in giving assistance to the commanding 



officer in his neighbourhood, and who took into his own 
demesne a great quantity of cattle which had been driven 
from the coast. Nor could anything exceed the ardour of 
the Earl of Ormond, who, when his regiment of militia 
was retained as part of the garrison of Dublin, solicited 
with so much zeal a command in the flank companies, that 
I thought it a measure due to his Majesty's service to 
encourage his Lordship's request. Camden. 

Such was the spirited conduct and loyal dispo- 
sition evinced by the people in the south of Ire- 
land, when the enemy threatened a descent on 
their shores. They naturally expected, and cer- 
tainly desired some recompense, but they received 
none. Their rights were still withheld ; and the 
French having departed, and the terror of invasion 
being removed, the minister gave to the people 
merely the empty tribute of extorted praise, and 
the Catholics in the south of Ireland remained 
disqualified, but loyal, while the hitherto favoured 
north was still discontented and disaffected. Par- 
liament assembled in January, but no relief was 
held out from that quarter : the declaration of war 
by Spain — the recall of Lord Malmesbury from 
Paris — and congratulations on the failure of the 
French expedition, formed the subject of Lord 
Camden's speech. Mr. Grattan proposed an 
amendment to the address, " That the House 
would consider it their duty to take into immediate 
consideration the steps that had been taken by the 
ministers for the" defence of the country." He 
contended that the British Minister should have 
been more vigilant, and sent the British fleet to 
protect the coast ; that the object of the expedi- 
tion had been known long before it sailed ; that 
the country had been neglected in a similar man- 
ner in 1779, and left to defend herself ; and when 
it was considered how much Ireland, by her purse 
and her people, contributed to the defence of the 


navy and the empire, the Minister was infinitely 
more culpable. All men exclaimed against his con- 
duct when they beheld him deaf to her entreaties 
— lost to all concern for the safety of Ireland — 
leaving her a prey to her distractions, and to be 
defended by her own valour. The conduct of the 
Catholics was exemplary, and was an answer to 
all the charges made against them ; that Parlia- 
ment would be much to blame if they were ever 
prompt to adulate and never to censure. Mr. 
Ponsonby took the same view of affairs, and hoped 
that the zeal and energy displayed by the people 
had at length opened the eyes of the Government, 
and that their best course would be to secure by 
mildness the good feelings of the people, instead 
of goading them into acts of violence by uncon- 
stitutional measures ; the Roman Catholics had 
proved their loyalty and their just title to be ad- 
mitted to the privileges of the Constitution. 

The numbers on the division were 7 to 90 
against Mr. Grattan's proposition. On the fail- 
ure of this motion, Sir L. Parsons, on the 24th 
of February, proposed to raise 50,000 yeomen, 
but he had only 23 to support him against 125. 
On the 27th, Mr. George Ponsonby proposed a vote 
of censure on Ministers for their neglect of the 
defence of the country, on the last threatened 
invasion, but it was rejected without a division. 
Mr. Vandeleur proposed an Absentee tax of two 
shillings in the pound on all rents of persons ab- 
sent more than six months : this was supported 
by Mr. Grattan, Mr. Fletcher, and Mr. Curran, but 
was defeated by 122 to 49. 

Such were the civic measures that engaged the 
attention of the House in the early part of the 
session of 1797 ; the close of it was occupied by 
others of a different character, and which quickly 
changed for the worse the aspect of affairs. The 




Habeas Corpus Act having been suspended,* and 
the Constitution being suppressed, Government 
seemed to think it an easy task to deal with the 
people. Accordingly, troops of the line, and fen- 
cible regiments from England, were poured into the 
country in great numbers. A multitude of persons 
were arrested for political offences ; some by war- 
rants from magistrates, and military officers made 
magistrates; others from privy councillors, judges, 
secretaries ; even by the Lord Lieutenant's sign 
manual ; and last, not least, from Lord Castle- 
reagh, who by this time had cast aside his Reform 
principles, and appeared in his real colours. 
Many were taken up merely on suspicion,-)" were 
lodged in gaol, and bail refused ; several were 
triedj at the assizes, and being acquitted, were 
immediately arrested on charges of high treason 

* In February, 1797, the military broke into the house of the pro- 
prietor of the Xorthcrn Star newspaper at Belfast, destroyed the types 
and presses, and lodged the printers in gaol. Messrs. Kobert and William 
Simms were arrested for having published Arthur O'Connor's address to 
the electors of the county of Antrim, and left in prison for four months. 
Arthur O'Connor was apprehended on the 2nd of February by order of 
the Privy Council for his second address to the county of Antrim, and 
lodged in the tower in Dublin Castle for six months. Looking through 
the prison bars, the sentries of the Highland fencibles fired at him, but 
without success. His address was an able composition, and stated 
some hard truths ; but though injudicious, would scarcely warrant the 
attempt to murder ! 

f In Belfast, a man with a mask or black crape over his face, was led 
out attended by the military, and when he marked out any individuals, 
they were seized and cast into prison. This man's name was supposed 
to be Newell, a spy of Government. In a few days forty persons were 
arrested. * 

X The chief trial for administering the test of the United Irish, took 
lace in April, in Armagh, in the case of Dogherty ; the witness against 
im was a soldier, who perjured himself so glaringly, that he was trans- 
ferred to the dock for trial, and the prisoner acquitted. The next case 
occurred at Monaghan, when the prisoner Hanlon was sworn against by 
a soldier of the 24th Dragoons, but he broke down on cross-examina- 
tion, and his evidence was disproved, and Hanlon acquitted. The 
system of procuring testimony by spies and informers, was carried by 
the Government supporters to a frightful extreme, and the circumstance 
of the military being connected with these trials raised a strong feeling 
against them, and was productive of great injury. 




and sedition, and again incarcerated ; spies and 
informers were encouraged, fostered, and pro- 
tected by Government ; they quickly multiplied, 
and established every where a reign of terror. 
The prisons overflowed, guard-houses and barracks 
were converted into gaols.* The people, how- 
ever, were not quieted ; discontent and outrage 
still continued ; arrest and incarceration on one 
side,— riot, disorder, and excess of all sorts on the 
other. Mr. Pitt's Government had passed a con- 
vention Act, a Riot Act, an Arms Act, a Gun- 
powder Act, an Insurrection Act, an Indemnity 
Act, and a Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; 
they imprisoned without bail, and transported 
without trial, and indemnified without compensa- 
tion, and yet they found these numerous, various, 
and excessive powers were unavailing : disorder 
and discontent not only continued, but increased.! 

At length, finding themselves incapable of se- 
curing the affections of the people, unwilling to 
remedy their grievances, and unable to controul 
their excesses, they determined to solve the diffi- 
culty by the sword, and place the whole North of 
Ireland under military government. On the 3d 
March, 1797, Mr. Pelham, the Secretary, wrote 
to General Lake, who commanded in the Province 
of Ulster, stating that, as in the counties of Down, 

* Several arrested by General Lake and Colonel Barber under a 
warrant from the Lord Lieutenant, were imprisoned in the artillery bar- 
racks in Belfast, and after a long confinement, brought up by Habeas 
Corpus to the King's Bench in November 1797. The case of Thomas 
Huson and twelve others was argued ; the court decided that their 
imprisonment was illegal — that they did not come within the law sus- 
pending the Habeas Corpus Act, and that as the charge of treasonable 
practices was a bailable offence, they should be released and bound to 
appear at the assizes. Messrs. Emmett and Sampson were counsel for 
the prisoners. Thus, numbers of persons were for months illegally 
deprived of their liberty, and this under the warrant and sign manual 
of the Lord Lieutenant. 

f Emmett, in his Evidence, says, that the first communication the 
United Irishmen had with France was not till after the Insurrection and 
Indemnity Acts had passed. — Pieces of Irish History, p. 215. 



Antrim, Derry, Donegal, and Tyrone, secret asso- 
ciations existed, and great outrages had been com- 
mitted, he should dispose of his men so as to deprive 
all persons of their arms, and to disperse all assem- 
blies, that were not in arms, without waiting for the 
civil authority, and should stop all persons tra- 
velling the high ways at night. In consequence, 
on the 13th March, General Lake issued his pro- 
clamation, whereby he placed the people without 
the pale of the law.* 

Mr. Grattan immediately called the attention of 

* By order of the Officer commanding the Northern District. 

Belfast, March 13, 1797. 

Whereas the daring and horrid outrage in many parts of this pro- 
vince, evidently perpetrated with a view to supersede the laws and the 
administration of justice, by an organized system of murder and robbery, 
have increased to such an alarming degree, as from their atrocity and 
extent to bid defiance to the civil power, and to endanger the lives and 
properties of his Majesty's faithful subjects. And whereas the better to 
effect their traitorous purposes, several persons who have been enrolled 
under the authority of his Majesty's commission, and others have been 
forcibly and traitorously deprived of their arms ; it is therefore become 
indispensably necessary for the safety and protection of the well dis- 
posed, to interpose the king's troops under n>y command : and I do hereby 
give notice that I have received authority and directions to act in such 
manner as the public safety may require. I do therefore hereby enjoin 
and require all persons in this district (peace-officers and those serving 
in a military capacity excepted) forthwith to bring in and surrender up 
all arms and ammunition which they may have in their possession, to 
the officer commanding the king's troops in their neighbourhood. 

I trust that an immediate compliance with this order may render any 
act of mine to enforce it unnecessary. 

Let the people seriously reflect before it is too late, on the ruin into 
which they are rushing ; let them reflect upon their present prosperity, 
and the miseries in which they will inevitably be involved by persisting 
in acts of positive rebelliou ; let them instantly, by surrendering up 
their^arms, amd by restoring those traitorously taken from the king's 
forces, rescue themselves from the severity of military authority. Let all 
the loyal and well-intentioned act together with energy and spirit, in 
enforcing subordination to the laws, and restoring tranquillity in their 
respective neighbourhoods, and they may be assured of protection and 
support from me. 

And I do hereby invite all persons who are enabled to give informa- 
tion touching arms or ammunition which maybe concealed, immediately 
to communicate the same to the several officers commanding his 
majesty's forces in their respective districts ; and for their encourage- 
ment and reward, I do hereby promise and engage that strict and in- 
violate secrecy shall be observed with respect to all persons who shall 
make such communication ; and that every person who shall make it 


the House to the subject, and asked if this procla- 
mation was issued by order of the Government. 
The Secretary, Mr. Pelham, declined to avow it. 
Mr. Grattan gave notice he would next day move 
for a copy of it. The ministers absented them- 
selves from the House; but on the 1 8th the Lord 
Lieutenant sent down a message,* stating he had 
authorized this measure. 

shall receive as a reward, the full value of all such arms and ammuni- 
tion as shall be seized in consequence thereof. 

(Signed by) G. Lake, Lieut. Gen. 

Commanding the Northern District. 
* Mr. Pelham delivered the following Message from His Excellency 
the Lord Lieutenant : 
" Camden. 

" The dangerous and the daring outrages committed in many parts of 
the Province of Ulster, evidently perpetrated with a view to supersede 
the law, and prevent the administration of justice by an organized 
system of murder and robbery, have lately increased to so alarming a 
degree in some parts of that province, as to bid defiance to the exer- 
tions of the civil power, and to endanger the lives and properties of his 
majesty's subjects in that part of the kingdom. 

" These outrages are encouraged and supported by treasonable asso- 
ciations to overturn our happy constitution. 

" Threats have been held out against the lives of all persons who 
shall venture to discover such their treasonable intentions. The fre- 
quent treasonable assemblage of persons, and their proceeding by 
threats and force to disarm the peaceable inhabitants, their endeavour to 
collect great quantities of arms in obscure hiding-places, their assem- 
bling by night to exercise the practice of arms, their intimidations, ac- 
companied by the most horrid murders, to prevent his majesty's faithful 
subjects from joining the yeomanry corps established by law, their hav- 
ing fired on some of his majesty's justices of the peace, and threat- 
ened with murder any who should have the spirit to stand forth in sup- 
port of the laws, which threats have been recently exemplified, their at- 
tacks on the military, by firing on them in the execution of their duty, have 
so totally bid defiance to the ordinary exertions of civil power, that I 
found myself obliged by every tie of duty to his majesty, and of regard 
to the welfare of his faithful subjects, to provide for the public safety by 
the most effectual and immediate application of the military force en- 
trusted to me. 

" I have accordingly ordered the General commanding in that pro- 
vince, to dispose of and employ those troops under his command, with 
the assistance and co-operation of the Yeomanry, to suppress these out- 
rages, and by seizing upon all arms and ammunition, to recover such as had 
been traitorously taken from his majesty's troops and others, and more 
effectually to defeat the evil designs of those who had endangered the 
public safety. 

" I have the satisfaction of informing you that by the firm and tem- 
perate conduct of the General, and the troops under him, and the zealous 


On the 20th, it was taken into consideration. 
Mr. Grattan remonstrated with the Minister for 
placing an entire province under military execu- 
tion without inquiry. The people were attainted 
on the charge of Government without proof. The 
dissatisfaction, he conceived, had been occasioned 
by the acts of the Minister, and the same system 
would continue it. The order of the Government 
was illegal ; it was an invitation for the French, 
almost a preparation to receive them ; irrecon- 
cilable with the genius of a free people, and 
more likely to give spirit to France, than subdue 
the spirit of Ireland. It was an admission that 
the strong measures had not succeeded, and that 
military law must be resorted to. " The system, 
however, would fail if the people did not suffer them- 
selves to be provoked into violence ; a partial insur- 
rection was the only thing that would uphold it.'' 
He concluded a most animated and able expos- 
tulation with the Government, by moving an 
amendment expressing their regret " that the Lord 
Lieutenant should have been advised to issue an 
order contrary to the law of the land, and the 
principles of the Constitution, which could not be 
enforced without violating every thing that was 
dear to a free people, and without the introduction 
of military government and military execution, 
and entreating him to recall the same." 

The law officers of the Crown, Mr. Wolfe and 
Mr. Toler, admitted that the proceeding was ille- 
gal, but justified it on the ground that the people 
were almost in a state of insurrection. Mr. John 
Claudius Beresford said he wished they were in open 

co-operation of the Yeomanry Corps, a very considerable number of 
arms has been taken ; and I am encouraged to hope that a continuance 
of the same vigorous measures will give confidence to the well-disposed, 
and restore to the civil power its constitutional authority, which it has 
ever been my wish, and shall be my strenuous endeavour to support 
with energy and e fleet. " C." 




[chap. IX. 

rebellion, to meet them face to face! Such was the 
spirit of the times, that these words passed unre- 
prehended by the House. It was in vain to reason 
with a body of men actuated by feelings such as 
these : the order of the day was to denounce 
every man as disloyal, and stigmatize him as a 
traitor, if he dared to oppose the measures of Go- 
vernment, or suggest those of leniency ; yet Mr. 
Fletcher, Mr. Hoare, Mr. Hardy, Mr. Ponsonby, 
and Mr. Curran fearlessly resisted the measure, 
and, exposed to abuse and vituperation, they sup- 
ported Mr. Grattan, but could only muster 16 to 
oppose 127.* 

Thus was the final blow struck, and a military 
despotism established. This measure of the Go- 
vernment was the most ill-advised and unfortunate 
that had yet been resorted to, and from the evi- 
dence of the United Irishmen, served greatly to 
increase their numbers. It was certain to inflame 
the people ; to confound innocent and guilty ; 
gratify the low passions of a licentious soldiery, 
and destroy military discipline, as well as domestic 
security. In a short time, the order was grossly 
abused, and led to every species of outrage and 
excess ; a man's house was no longer his castle \ 

* In this debate a practice was commenced, which was more fully 
carried into effect at the period of the Union — to let loose a set of 
Government bravos, to intimidate the members of the Opposition — 
stigmatising them by charges of disaffection and sedition — and as 
causing by their speeches the discontent among the people. Mr. Egan, 
who, as before stated, was one of the Opposition, now took part with 
Government, and attacked his old friends, and among them Mr. Grattan. 
If he had been successful, he would probably have been well rewarded ; 
but the rebuke he received, damped the ardour of that party, and the 
practice was for a time discontinued. After a humorous allusion to Mr. 
Egan's grotesque figure and manner, Mr. Grattan applied these lines : — 

There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats — 

For I am armed so strong in honesty, 

That they pass by me as the idle wind, 

Which I respect not. 
The Speaker, apprehending some evil consequences, sent for the parties, 
and on searching for Mr. Egan, he was found reposing very quietly in 



its sanctity was violated ; and at any hour, day or 
night, and by any of the lowest of the soldiery. 
Rapine — rape — violation — conflagration — outrage 
and insult were committed under the appearance 
of authority, and with perfect impunity, till pub- 
lic calamity became so aggravated, that men 
began to look upon Government, not merely with 
horror, but execration.* 

The dangerous state to which Ireland was 
brought, had, ere this time, excited the alarm of 
many in England. Those opposed to Mr. Pitt, 
dreaded the effects of his policy ; the monied men 
grew alarmed about the connexion; they saw, that 
the late escape from invasion was attributable 
solely to accident. They saw that the just com- 
plaints of the people were treated with neglect, 
and that strong measures had failed. Accordingly, 
Lord Moira, in the House of Lords, and Mr. Fox, 
in the Commons, moved an Address to the King, 
praying him to take into consideration the state 
of the kingdom of Ireland, and to adopt such 
healing and lenient measures as were best cal- 
culated to restore tranquillity, and conciliate the 
affections of all classes of his subjects. Mr. Fox 
was seconded by Sir Francis Burdett,f but his 
motion was defeated by 220 to 84 ; and Lord 
Moira's was equally unsuccessful. Mr. Pitt's 
party contended that the British Parliament could 
not interfere in the affairs of Ireland without 
violating the independence of the Parliament of 

* In June, two Roman Catholic chapels in the counties of Tyrone 
and Armagh were broken open and destroyed by the Orange Party, and 
their altars levelled to the ground, and this with perfect impunity. In 
the succeeding year upwards of thirty chapels were burned in the 
southern parts of Ireland. 

f This individual, who began his political career by professing the 
most democratic principles, now terminates it by ultra tory doctrines, 
leaving his party, and opposing the Irish, not only with violence but 
virulence — a melancholy instance how much too long a man may live 
for the consistency of his character, or the permanence of his fame. 
T 2 



that kingdom. The speech of Mr. Fox was ad- 
mired and applauded in Ireland,* and his exer- 

Aprillth, 1797. 

* At a meeting of the Whig Club, Abraham Wilkinson, Esq. in the 
chair, the following resolution was agreed to : — 

" That the thanks of this Club be given to the Earl of Moira and the 
Right Hon. Charles James Fox, and the Minority that supported their 
late motions in the British Parliament, for their just and necessary ex- 
ertions against the malignant interference of the British Ministry in the 
government of this country, by a system of corruption and coercion, 
tending to subvert the independence of Parliament — introductory of 
military execution in the place of law, — and threatening to shake the 
connexion between Great Britain and Ireland." 

The following was Lord Moira's reply. Mr. Fox merely returned 

To the Secretary of the Whig Club. 
, " * April 30, 1797. 

Sir, — I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, 
enclosing the resolution by which the Whig Club has testified its appro- 
bation of my having called the attention of the British Parliament to the 
state of Ireland. It is infinitely gratifying to me, that my sentiments 
respecting our country are sanctioned by this concurrence on the part of 
persons, who to respectability of private character, add the merit of 
having associated to support the principles which form our Constitution : 
principles, the object of which is not only to give to the individual the 
comfort of feeling himself secure from insult or oppression, but to ascer- 
tain the extent of men's privileges, and thereby prevent those dangerous 
struggles for imaginary rights which so frequently occur against go- 
vernments of undefined power. No evasion could be more wretched 
than the argument of Ministers, that the British Parliament, by deli- 
berating on such a question, would trench upon the exclusive functions 
of the Irish senate : as if a prayer to his Majesty to curb a perverse and 
ruinous interference of the British Minister in the domestic affairs of 
Ireland could be an attack on that independence of the Irish Legislature, 
which I have ever loudly maintained to be indispensable for the har- 
mony and stability of the empire. I have only noticed that point, be- 
cause the sophistry carried with it this injurious implication, that the 
Minister spoke the probable sense of the Irish Parliament : and if any 
thing could ever diminish the veneration of the public towards so ex- 
alted an assembly, it would be the supposition that it was capable of 
lending itself to such a collusion, when scarcely any man of any class in 
the two kingdoms can be imagined incompetent to make the obvious 
discrimination. By such as know the tone of the Irish Parliament, the 
suspicion could not for a moment be entertained ; but I rejoice that the 
case cannot now be misconceived by the less informed part of the pub- 
lic in this country. Against the mischievous inference to which I have 
alluded, they will oppose the declared sentiments of the most jealous 
asserters of the Irish Constitution : so that the resolution which you have 
conveyed to me, is no less satisfactory from patriotic considerations, 
than flattering as applied to my present feelings. 

I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient and humble servant, 




tions on behalf of the Irish were received with 
thanks and gratitude ; but by the partisans of the 
Irish Government with dissatisfaction not unmixed 
with apprehension, lest their conduct should be- 
come a matter of public and general enquiry, and 
a national effort be made to remove the ministers. 
Doctor Duigenan took up the subject, and brought 
it before the House of Commons, denouncing Mr. 
Fox's speech as a false, seditious, and malicious 
libel on the Irish Parliament, and as a flagitious at- 
tempt to excite treason and rebellion in the country; 
and on the 3rd of May, he moved that the libel be 
read at the bar; he accompanied this proceeding 
by a most violent attack on the Opposition, and on 
the people, but in such a strain of abuse that the 
Government could not support his motion, they 
moved the order of the day, which was carried, 
and thus got rid of this extraordinary proposition. 
Unfortunately for Ireland, the danger which Mr. 
Grattan had so often deprecated, and against which 
he had cautioned his countrymen, when he used 
that figurative phrase — u Touch not this plant of 
Gallic growth — its taste is death, though 'tis not the 
tree of knowledge ! ! " — this great calamity had now 
befallen the country. The people of the north of 
Ireland, vexed by repeated disappointments — 
their hopes frustrated, and their favourite measures 
rejected ; goaded by cruel and tyrannical acts of 
violence, proceeded from turbulence to sedition, 
and from sedition to treason ; they plotted the 
overthrow of the Government, the alteration of the 
Constitution, the establishment of a Republic, and 
the appeal to France for assistance. 

On the 14th of April, 1797, in consequence of pri- 
vate information,* fifteen individuals, forming two 

* These individuals were Presbyterians and Protestants ; not a single 
Catholic was among them ; and those most conspicuous who suffered 
in the ensuing year, were — 


committees, were apprehended in Belfast, by a 
party of military, under the command of Colonel 
Barber, and their papers seized : these, on the 29th 
were laid before the House of Commons, by order 
of the Lord Lieutenant ; they were referred to a 
Secret Committee ; and on the 12th of May their 
report appeared, which fully disclosed the pro- 
ceedings of the United Irishmen. It stated the 
origin of the Society in 1791 ; that after the French 
Revolution they sought to establish a Republic in 
Ireland, and to overturn the Constitution ; en- 
couraged by the expectation of aid from France, 
they represented the connexion between Great 
Britain and Ireland as incompatible with the hap- 
piness of the latter ; they communicated with 
seditious societies in Great Britain. Their constitu- 
tion was a union of Irishmen, of all persuasions, to 
obtain a reform in the Legislature, founded upon 
the principles of civil and religious liberty. The 
test was a voluntary declaration that they would 
persevere in their endeavours to form a brotherhood 
of affection among Irishmen of every religious 
persuasion, and to obtain an equal and adequate 
representation of all the people of Ireland, and 
with a further declaration that nothing would ever 

^on tenders, 
and sent to 
Fort George. 

The Rev. Mr. Acheson, Presbyterian minister of Glenarm, County 
Antrim — life saved. 

The Rev. Mr. Dickson, Presbyterian minister of Porta-> 
ferry, County Down. 

The Rev. Mr. Kilburne, Presbyterian minister of Bel- 
fast, County Antrim. 

The Rev. Mr. Smyth, Presbyterian minister, County 

The Rev. Mr. Stevelly, Covenanter. J 
The Rev. Mr. Simpson, Presbyterian minister, New-^ 

tonnards, County Down. l>TranarwM*£«i 
The Rev. Mr. Birch, Presbyterian minister, Saintfield, r Arans P oriea - 

County Down. J 
The Rev. Mr. M'Mahon, Presbyterian minister, Holly-") 

wood, County Down. I p . , ., 

The Rev. Mr. Gibson, Covenanter. f d ° 6 

The Rev. Mr. M'Kenny, Covenanter. J 


induce them to give evidence against any member 
of the Society ; that committees and societies had 
been appointed in various parts of the country, had 
collected money and arms, enrolled men, and fee'd 
counsel to defend their partizans at the assizes ; 
they had of late assumed a military character, but 
their numbers were much exaggerated. Such was 
the report. In various Appendixes were set out, 
the papers seized, which recited the number of 
men, and the quantity of arms. The Committee an- 
nexed to these the declaration of the Society of 
United Irishmen, in 1791. That of the Belfast 
United Irishmen in the same year ; likewise a 
letter of Wolfe Tone, condemning the Whig Club, 
and stating that Mr. Grattan would hesitate very 
much at their resolutions. These were obviously 
introduced, with a view to connect the proceedings 
of the society in latter years with those of 1791, 
with which they had no relationship whatever — to 
inculpate the Roman Catholics, and injure their 
question. If any opinion is to be formed from the 
style of their papers and their writings, the tenor 
of their orders and the orthography, the members 
would appear to have belonged to an ignorant and 
illiterate class : but the groundwork of the Society 
was able and efficient.* Every district containing 
three or more societies elected three persons from 
each, by ballot, to form a baronial committee; 
three or more baronial committees elected two per- 
sons from each to form a county committee ; two 
or more counties elected three from each to form a 
provincial committee ; and two or more provincials 
five from each to form a national committee, to 
meet every month. 

In ten northern counties they enrolled 99,411 

* Report of Select Committee of House of Commons, May, 1797, 
No. 2, p. 57. 


men,* but their finances seemed low, amounting 
only to 144/. 2*. Id. — their armoury also was 
wretchedly defective ;f as, by a return of the 
counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, and Louth, 
in which upwards of 60,000 men were enumerated, 
they had but 6,346 guns, 2,536 bayonets, 3,816 
pikes, 465 pistols, eighteen blunderbusses, and 
eight cannon.J Dr. M'Nevin in his work entitled 
" Pieces of Irish History," describes the originators 
of the system. § He says "they were farmers, me- 
chanics, manufacturers, and shopkeepers ! ! /" Yet 
these men of little weight, moderate abilities, with- 
out fortune, and with no resources, were able in 
so short a time to organize such a body, with a 
view to revolutionize a kingdom, and to convulse 
the empire from centre to circumference ! Surely 
there must have been some very omnipotent 
motive, and some much more powerful stimu- 
lant than could be applied or discovered by per- 
sons in the rank of farmers, mechanics, and 
shopkeepers ! ! What a censure on Mr. Pitt's 
conduct ! — what a reflection on Lord Clare ! — 
what a satire on Lord Camden's Administration, 
and British Government in Ireland ! ! ! In fact, 
these "farmers, manufacturers, and shopkeepers" 
would never have been able to bring about an in- 
surrection, if they had not been aided by Lord Clare 
and the Ministry — their vigour beyond the law — 
their abusive speeches — their violent acts — martial 
law — burnings, free quarters, and torture. It was 
not until October, 1796, that the military organiza- 
tion began in Ulster, and that Dr. M'Nevin, Arthur 

* Idem, p. 64. — Antrim, 22,039 men ; Down, 23,769 ; Derry, 
10,000; Tyrone, 12,169; Armagh, 12,273 ; Monaghan, 3,075; Donegal, 
9,648 ; Cavan, 1,000; Fermanagh, 2,000 ; Louth, 3,438— all Protestant 

f Idem, p. 57. 

% Idem, p. 65. 

|| Pages 77 to 103, New York ed. 



O'Connor, and Lord Edward Fitzgerald, became 
United Irishmen ; it is also observable that the 
proposal as to foreign aid came from France, and 
did not originate in Ireland, nor was any accredited 
messenger sent from the United Irishmen till April, 
1797 ;* and when a plan of insurrection for the 
North was formed and drawn out, the project was 
at once abandoned ; with respect to Leinster and 
Munster, the military organization did not com- 
mence there till the middle of 1797 ;t and if reform 
had been granted, foreign connexion would have 
been abandoned, and the people would have been 
reconciled to the Government. 

It would be painful and disgusting to relate the 
various acts of tyranny and oppression that were 
inflicted on a country, torn by civil war, domestic 
faction, and religious animosity; one instance of 
magisterial conduct will show the spirit that influ- 
enced that body. Mr. M'Naghten, a magistrate 
of Antrim, summoned a number of persons to 
appear at a private house, to be examined on oath 
as to their knowledge of any unlawful assembly, 
or the taking of any unlawful oaths. Several very 
respectable persons attended, but declined to be 
examined on so vague a proceeding, and without 
any specific charge being made against any indi- 
vidual ; upon which, a military party being in 
readiness, took nine of the persons to gaol for a 
contempt, where they remained in the depth of a 
most inclement winter, without bail. At an assizes 
in the north, before Mr. Toler, afterwards Lord 
Norbury, the prisoner was brought to trial in a state 
of intoxication ; he was drunk when he was ar- 
raigned — he was drunk when he was tried;}; — and 

* Though Lord Edward Fitzgerald and Arthur O'Connor proceeded 
to the Continent to meet Hoche in 1796, neither of them were then 
United Irishmen. 

t M'Nevin's Evidence, Lords' Committee Report. 

\ The judge, who was very short sighted, did not of course perceive it. 

282 mr. curran's exposition of [chap. IX, 

he was drunk when he was hanged. At theDerry 
assizes, the same Judge, in his charge to the 
Grand Jury, stated, that he had just received the 
sacrament; and having his mind set at ease, was 
much better prepared to go through the awful busi- 
ness in which he was engaged: he then tried a man 
for a riot, and sentenced him to two years' imprison- 
ment, and to be flogged, unless he gave useful in/or- 
mation to the neighbouring magistrate — (Sir Geo. 
Hill.) In another case, a prisoner, sixty-five 
years of age, was accused of buying a ball-cartridge 
from a soldier ; he sentenced the old man to be 
flogged, but having a good character, the jury in- 
terfered, so Judge Toler sentenced him only to two 
years imprisonment, and 50/. fine ! ! ! Such were 
the judicial proceedings. With respect to the 
juries, the mode of selecting them may be judged 
from the following occurrence : — At Saintfield, in 
the county Down, twelve persons were tried for 
assaulting a dwelling-house ; the Rev. Mr. Clel- 
land, tutor to Lord Castlereagh, was the chief wit- 
ness on the occasion : he was charged with having 
selected the jury; the prisoners made a legal objec- 
tion, and, after eleven hours' trial, they were ac- 
quitted. Mr. Curran's speech on the occasion 
gives some idea of the proceedings adopted towards 
the people. His description of the reverend gentle- 
man, magistrate, tutor, and witness, is rather amus- 
ing. After a speech of considerable length, deli- 
vered with great animation and eloquence, he said — 

" This was a challenge on matter of the highest moment 
to the community, to his clients, and to the purity of a 
court of justice. His object was to shew that the grand 
pannel of the county from which the present pannel was 
taken, was not that fair and disinterested pannel to which 
he could wish to commit the lives and liberties of his un- 
fortunate clients ; and therefore he found himself in duty 
bound to use his best exertions to have it set aside, that 
justice — impartial justice — may be honestly dispensed. 



Trial by jury was a most valuable privilege when it was 
preserved pure — and hence it was, that a great law Lord 
had stated, that a jury ought to be as a leaf of white paper, 
or, in the language of the present Court, it ought to be un- 
tinged ; it ought to be a pure, unadulterated water, free 
from every mixture that could affect its transparency — 
otherwise it would only be tainted, drawn from the poisoned 
fountain, which flowed with certain death towards his client ; 
or, it would be a sheet of paper blurred, and scrawled over 
with characters vile and detestable. — This was no common 
period in the history of the world — they were no ordi- 
nary transactions which were now passing before us — all 
Europe was shook to the centre ; we felt its force, and were 
likely to be involved in its consequences. There was no 
man who had sense enough to be conscious of his own ex- 
istence, who could hold himself disengaged and uncon- 
cerned amidst the present scenes — and to say that a man 
was unbiassed and unprejudiced is the surest proof that he 
is both. Prejudice was the cobweb which caught vulgar 
minds, but the prejudices of the present day float in the 
upper regions — they entangle the lofty heads — they are 
bowing them down — you see them as they flutter, and you 
hear them as they buzz. Mr. Clelland was become a very 
public and a very active man ; he has his mind, I doubt 
not, stored with the most useful and extensive erudition — he 
is clothed with the sacred office of a Minister of the Gospel of 
peace; he is a magistrate of the county — tutor of a young 
lord — he is employed as agent to some large properties — he is 
reputably connected and universally esteemed, and is therefore 
a man of no small weight and consideration in this county. 
He has more than once positively sworn that he applied to 
the High Sheriff — that he struck off no name but those who 
wanted freeholds ; but to-day he finds that freeholders were 
struck off by his own pen ; he tells you, my Lord, and 
Gentlemen Triers, with equal modesty and ingenuity, that 
he has made a — mistake. He returns eighty-one names to 
the Sheriff — he receives blank summonses, and fills up what 
he deems convenient. Gracious Heaven ! what are the courts 
of justice ? What is trial by jury? What is the country 
brought to ? Were it told in the courts above — were it 
told in other countries — were it told in Westminster-hall 
that such a man was permitted to return near one-half of 
the Grand Panel of the county from one particular dis- 
trict — a district under severe distress — a district to which 


he is agent, and on which, with the authority he possesses, 
he is able to bring great calamity. He ascends the pulpit 
with the Gospel of benignity and peace ; he endeavours to 
impress himself and his hearers with its meek and holy 
spirit. He descends, throws off the purple, seizes the in- 
surrection act in the one hand, and the whip in the other; 
flies by night and by day after his game — -and with his 
heart panting, his breath exhausted, and his belly at the 
ground in the chase, he turns round and tells you that his 
mind is unprejudiced — that his heart is full of humanity — 
and that all his hopes, fears, and wishes, are a pure innocent 
mixture of milk and water." 

Every effort in Parliament to remedy the griev- 
ances of the nation was useless ; and it may ap- 
pear singular that the question of Parliamentary 
Reform and Catholic Emancipation should have 
been brought forward by Mr. Ponsonby. The cir- 
cumstances which led to that were as follows : — 
In December, 1796, a public meeting was held 
at Belfast, and William Sampson, Arthur O'Con- 
nor, R. Symes, and Mr. Tennent, with five others, 
were appointed to draw up resolutions to be laid 
before the Lord Lieutenant ; they set forth — 

" That the imperfect state of the representation in 
the House of Commons is the primary cause of the dis- 

" That the public mind would be restored to tranquillity 
and, every impending danger averted, by such a reform as 
would secure population and property their due weight, 
without distinction on account of religion. 

" That a declaration fairly manifested on the part of the 
Government, to comply with the just desires of the people, 
would produce the happiest effects, as it would conciliate 
the affections of the people, whose object was reform alone, 
and thus bid defiance to foreign and domestic enemies. " 

These were laid before the Lord Lieutenant, 
and if they had met with a favourable reception, 
and had been promptly acted on, they might have 
prevented the catastrophe that followed, and there 
would have been neither insurrection, invasion, nor 




union ; and the breach between the King and the 
people would have closed. This is distinctly set 
forth in the memoir delivered to Government by- 
O'Connor, Emmett, and M'Nevin. But that did 
not seem to be the object of the Government party; 
they wished to carry the Legislative Union ; and 
accordingly their writers assailed these resolutions, 
and their authors, with unmeasured abuse, and 
poured upon both all their indignation and anger, 
and declared that no terms should be kept with 
such men. Thus they made it appear, that at- 
tachment to the people and their liberties was not 
meant to imply attachment to the Government, 
but that loyalty should have ulterior vieics. 

Mr. Grattan had alluded to a union in some of 
his late speeches ; and it now began seriously to 
be entertained by the Minister in Ireland. It had 
long since been entertained by a party in England, 
as appears from the letters of Lord Shelburne, in 
1782,* and from the communications of the Duke 
of Portland, though less distinct, in 1795-t With 
this view, Parliamentary reform had been con- 
stantly rejected ; these wily politicians knowing, 
that if the abuse of the institution of Parliament 
rendered the body little valued or respected, the 
people might become indifferent whether it should 
be retained or lost, and thus their project of union 
would have a certain and easy victory. 

The leading men of the Opposition, therefore, 
attached much importance to the Belfast resolu- 
tions, and before Mr. Ponsonby brought forward 
his plan of reform, in May 1797, Emmett' s party 
sought to open a communication with them. Mr. 
Ponsonby sent for Mr. Grattan, and he, Curran, 
and the Ponsonbys, met in Order to confer on the 
prudence of an interview with Emmett and his 
friends. They wished the latter to join on the 

* See Vol. II. 289-92. f Ante, p. 193. 


question of reform, — give up annual elections and 
universal suffrage, and acquiesce in the plan about 
to be submitted to Parliament. To this some of 
Emmett's party were disposed ;* and Nelson, who 
was one of them, and well acquainted with the 
people of the North, their feelings, and wishes/was 
understood to assent. Mr. Ponsonby thought it 
would considerably strengthen his case if he was 
authorized to declare that the discontented party 
had offered to be satisfied, and to withdraw their 
extravagant demands if the Government would 
assent to the proposed reform. Accordingly, the 
leaders of the Opposition discussed the point: 
they sat late, — talked a good deal about the pro- 
posed interview, — some doubted the wisdom of 
it, and they broke up without deciding anything. 
However, Mr. Grattan, on his return home, made 
up his mind not to hold the meeting, and sent off 
to Mr. Ponsonby, advising them against such a 
step, as it probably would lead to no good, and 
might place them in an embarrassing situation. 
He very likely thought that Government would not 
yield, and neither party listen to terms. Cer- 
tainly, with such a party in power as Lord Cam- 
den and Lord Clare, this conclusion was right, 
but with any other it would have been fatal ; for 
on a review of the whole case, it may be said that 
the leaders of the United Irishmen were sincere. 
The North had relaxed its efforts against the Go- 
vernment ; great difficulties were placed in the 
way of the United men ; and, above all, they found 
that they could not depend upon each other ; so 
they would gladly have listened to any reasonable 
terms of accommodation. In his evidence, Em- 
mett says, that if the reform had been adopted, 
the Executive Directory of the United Irishmen 

* JVTNevin's Evidence. — Pieces of Irish History. New York edit, 
p. 206. 


would have sent a messenger* to France to tell 
them 94 that the difference between the people and 
the Government was adjusted, and not to attempt 
a second invasion" Thus it may fairly be said, 
that all the misfortunes that befell the country 
were attributable to Lords Camden and Clare ; 
they lost the opportunity of recalling the United 
Irishmen to a sense of loyalty and of duty. This 
proceeding having ended, — and from the evidence 
of the United party, it appears it was the only con- 
nexion ever subsisting between them and the mem- 
bers of the Opposition,! — Mr. Ponsonby brought 
forward his motion on the subject of reform, but 
he could only muster 30 to 1 17 : thus ended this 
measure, which Mr. Flood, Mr. Grattan, Mr. Pon- 
sonby, and all the leading patriots had so long 
contended for, and which, though so delayed, and 
so abridged, even at this late period, the United 
men declared would have satisfied the country. J 
The Opposition, finding their labours useless, and 
the task of opposing the violent measures of Go- 
vernment hopeless, formed the resolution to retire; 
and on the debate on the motion of reform, Mr. 
Grattan declared their intention no longer to attend 
the House of Commons. His advice to Govern- 
ment, and his remonstrance with them on their 
violent conduct, extorted praise even from those 
to whom it was addressed; and, among others, 
from Lord Castlereagh, who complimented him on 
the manner and temper with which he had treated 
the subject. After an able and close investiga- 

* Detailed statement by O'Connor, Emmett, and McNevin, p. 189. 
Emmett's Evidence, New York edition, p. 215. 

f The statements of Mr. Gifford in his Life of Pitt upon this subject 
are not to be credited — he was wholly ignorant of Irish affairs. 

\ Pieces of Irish History, p. 206. The evidence as reported by Lord 
Clare, and published by the Lords, is very defective and garbled, and in 
many parts the sense is wholly altered : this appears on comparing it 
with the American publication ; and when Dr. McNevin expostulated 
with Lord Clare on this, he replied, " He must not expect they would pub- 
lish more than would answer their purpose." 



tion into the causes of the public disorder and 
disturbance in Ireland, Mr. Grattan observed : — 

# # * # « Gentlemen chiefly rely on the report of 
the Secret Committee, and allege that a conspiracy ap- 
pears from that report to have established itself in a way 
so extensive and formidable as to render any conciliatory 
measure inadmissible ; £ they must be subdued before they 
shall be relieved;' such are the words of Gentlemen — 
dangerous and inconsiderate words I but from that very 
report I draw a conclusion diametrically opposite ; from 
that report I conclude that Parliamentary Reform is not 
merely eligible, but absolutely indispensable. In that re- 
port, and from the speeches of Gentlemen, we learn that a 
conspiracy has existed for some years ; that it was composed 
originally of persons of no powerful or extensive influence 
— and yet these men, under prosecution and discountenance, 
have been so extended as to reach every county in the 
kingdom, to levy a great army, to provide arms and am- 
munition, and to alarm, as the report states, the existence 
of the Government, with the number of its proselytes, pro- 
cured by these two popular subjects — Parliamentary Re- 
form, and Catholic Emancipation. It appears, then, that 
they have recruited by these topics, and have spread their 
influence, notwithstanding your system of coercion, every 
where; that notwithstanding your Convention Bill of 1793, 
it passed that year ; that this convention has grown — that 
notwithstanding your gunpowder act, it has armed and 
increased its military stores under that act — that notwith- 
standing your insurrection act, another bill to disarm, it has 
greatly added to its magazines — and that notwithstanding 
the suspension of the Habeas Corpus bill, and Gen. 
Lake's proclamation, it has multiplied its proselytes. I 
should have asked, had I been on the Secret Committee, 
whether the number of United Irishmen had not increased 
very much since Gen. Lake's proclamation — and by 
General Lake's proclamation. It appears from that re- 
port, that just as your system of coercion advanced, the 
United Irishmen advanced — that the measures you took to 
coerce, strengthened — to disperse, collected — to disarm, 
armed — and to render them weak and odious, made them 
popular and powerful — whereas, on the other hand, you 
have loaded Parliament and Government with the odium of 
an oppressive system, and with the further odium of re- 


jecting these two popular topics, which you allow are the 
most likely to gain the heart of the nation, and to be the 
beloved objects of the people ; in short, you have given to 
the United Irishmen the popularity of suffering under acts 
of power, and the popularity of offering acts of privilege — 
acts giving to the Catholics emancipation — to the people a 
full and free representation ; and to the Parliament you have 
given the odium of passing those acts of power, and of re- 
jecting those acts of privilege. What, then, remains but to 
reverse your conduct, and offer to your people immediately 
those acts of privilege — those acts which you allow, while 
you allege they are the pretext of some committees, are the 
great object of the nation ; by such, I say, if you cannot 
reconcile all, you will reconcile the nation, — you will take 
from the United Irishmen their proselytes — you will annex 
those proselytes to Parliament, and if you do not annex every 
man you will annex the people. Gentlemen are reduced in 
the course of their argument to the necessity of saying that 
the people would not be satisfied with the plan of reform 
submitted; they allow the reform to be the present object 
of the people ; hereafter it may not, but they say the 
people would not be satisfied with this reform. Sir, we 
have sent our plan to different persons who are much in the 
confidence of the people, and to persons who have a great 
lead among the different sects of our fellow-citizens — they 
have considered the plan, and have consulted with one 
another, and have returned us for answer that the plan sub- 
mitted, would be highly agreeable to them. * # # * 

" I have in my hand a paper signed by 900 persons, 
considerable men in business, and northern merchants, con- 
taining the following resolutions in substance, — that they 
conceive the cause of the present discontent to be the 
miserable state of the representation — that the discontent 
and suffering will continue until Parliament shall be re- 
formed, and that they will persist in the pursuit of that 
object, and will not lose sight of it by cavils at the plan, 
but will expect and be satisfied with such a plan as 
does substantially restore to the community the right of 
electing the House of Commons — securing its independency 
against the influence of the Crown — limiting the duration of 
Parliament, and extending to his Majesty's subjects the pri- 
vileges of the Constitution, without distinction of religion. 
Such a plan we offer you ; that is our plan of peace — our idea 
of strength and union against a foreign enemy; we conceive 




that all your other plans have failed ; you tried them — you 
tried your revenue, and you failed — you tried your public 
credit — it has failed ; you tried armed force — it has failed ; 
you have attempted to combat democracy by armies, and you 
failed ; you sent armies against your enemies to combat that 
principle, and you failed; you sent armies against your people, 
and you failed. You conquered your laws indeed — you 
conquered the person of the subject— but you could not sub- 
due his mind — you could not conquer the passion or the 
principle ; on the contrary, you enflamed both ; what then 
remains? Try this plan — Reform the Parliament; let the 
King identify with his people ; there is his strength — let 
him share with them, or rather let them share with him, the 
blessings of the Constitution ; as they have given him the 
powers of government, let him restore to them the rights of 
self-legislation — without that they have no liberty, and with- 
out a full and free representation in the Commons, they 
have not that — they have the name indeed, but they have 
not the substance. 

"There are in our Constitution three great Presiden- 
cies, or chairs — the Throne ; the chair of the Nobles ; and 
the chair of the Commons, that is, the chair, or what should 
be the chair, of the people. If his Majesty is satisfied with 
being seated in the first, and will leave the two others to 
the Peers and the people — he will reign long and securely, 
because the Peers and the people in securing to him the 
possession of his seat, secure to themselves the possession 
of theirs; but if he shall be advised to take possession of 
the three chairs, and endeavour to set himself in all of 
them, his situation is precarious and unnatural, and the 
situation of his people is the condition of bondsmen. Such 
a people have no political pride nor political interest to 
defend, and therefore such a people will not be enthusiasts 
to defend the Throne against its enemies, foreign or domes- 
tic. The privileges of the Constitution were the protection 
of the people against the King, they are now the armour of 
of the King against democracy. In this opinion we have 
submitted our plan, and we have deprecated yours. What 
is your plan ? There are but two measures in the country — 
Reform, or force. We have offered you the former, you 
seem inclined to the latter. Let us consider it — " to sub- 
due, to coerce, to establish unqualified submission." An 
arduous, a precarious undertaking — have you well weighed 
all its consequences ? Is there not much of passion in your 


judgment? — have you not lost your temper a little in the 
contest? I am sure you have shewn this night symptoms 
of irritation — a certain impatience of the complaints of the 
people. So it was in the American business. Nothing 
less in that contest than their unconditional submission — 
alas ! what was the consequence ? As far as you have 
tried your experiment here it has failed — the report shews 
you it has failed. It has increased the evil it would 
restrain — it has propagated the principles it would punish, 
but if repeated and invigorated, you think it will have more 
success — I apprehend not. Don't you perceive that in- 
stead of strengthening monarchy by constitutional prin- 
ciples, you are attempting to give it force by despotic 
ones I — that you are giving the new principle the advan- 
tage of success abroad, and of suffering at home — and that 
you are losing the people, while you think you are 
strengthening the Throne — that you have made a false 
alliance with unnatural principles, and instead of identify- 
ing with the people, you identify with abuses. Before 
they are to be reformed, rebellion, you tell us, must be 
subdued. You tried that experiment in America — America 
required self-legislation — you attempted to subdue America 
by force of angry laws, and by force of arms — you exacted 
of America unconditional submission — the Stamp Act and 
the tea tax were only pretexts — so you said ; the object, 
you said, was separation — so here the Reform of Parlia- 
ment, you say, and Catholic emancipation, are only pre- 
texts — the object you say is separation — and here you 
exact unconditional submission — " You must subdue 
before you reform j " — Indeed! — Alas! you think so; 
but you forget you subdue by reforming ; — it is the best 
conquest you can obtain over your own people. But let 
me suppose you succeed — what is your success ? — a mili- 
tary government — a perfect despotism — a hapless victory 
over the principles of a mild Government and a mild Con- 
stitution — a Lnion! — but what maybe the ultimate con- 
sequence of such a victory? — a separation. Let us suppose 
that the war continues, and that your conquest over your 
own people is interrupted by a French invasion — what 
would be your situation then I I do not wish to think of 
it ; but I wish you to think of it, and to make a better 
preparation against such an event than such conquests 
and such victories. When you consider the state of your 
u 2 




arms abroad, and the ill-assured state of your government 
at home, precipitating on such a system, surely you should 
pause a little : — even on the event of a peace you are ill 
secured against a future war, which the state of Ireland 
under such a system would be too apt to invite ; but on 
the event of the continuation of the war — your system is 
perilous indeed — I speak without asperity — I speak with- 
out resentment — I speak, perhaps, my delusion ; but it is 
my heartfelt conviction — I speak my apprehension for the 
immediate state of our liberty, and for the ultimate state of 
the empire ; I see, or I imagine I see, in this system, every 
thing which is dangerous to both ; I hope I am mistaken ; 
at least I hope I exaggerate — possibly I may — if so, 
I shall acknowledge my error with more satisfaction than 
is usual in the acknowledgment of error. I cannot, how- 
ever, banish from my memory the lesson of the American 
war, and yet at that time English Government was at the 

paratively unbroken. If that lesson has no effect on 
Ministers, surely I can suggest nothing that will. We 
have offered you our measure — you will reject it ; we 
deprecate yours — you will persevere ; having no hopes left 
to persuade or to dissuade, and having discharged our 
duty, we shall trouble you no more, and after this 


Mr. Pitt was becoming unpopular in England.* 
The enthusiasm excited in his favour by the 
French revolution had nearly died away. His 
attempt to hang his early friends, Home Tooke, 
Hardy, and other reformers, in which he was 
foiled by the virtue of British juries, had injured 
his reputation. The bad success that attended his 
military expeditions, and his negotiations with 
France ; the stoppage of cash payments ; the 
neglect of Ireland ; and now the mutiny of the 
seamen at the Nore, had increased national dis- 
content, as well as ministerial embarrassment ; 
while in Ireland, his handing over the people to 

* Upwards of thirty counties and cities in England assembled, and 
passed addresses, praying the King to remove Mr. Pitt from the royal 
councils for ever. 

was possessed of resources com- 



military law, — his peremptory refusal to entertain 
Mr. Fox's motion in favour of lenient measures 
towards Ireland, — had rendered him and his go- 
vernment not only unpopular, but odious to all 
except the high ascendancy party, who seemed 
bent on giving him a desperate but steady sup- 
port. It is, however, due to the character of Ire- 
land, to say, that her people did not silently 
behold the spoliation of their dearest rights, the 
introduction of unconstitutional measures, or the 
enforcement of military execution ; and suffer, 
without remonstrance, the deprivation of law 
and liberty. The counties of Antrim, Armagh, 
Kildare, and King's County; the cities of Dublin 
and Cork ; the members of the Bar and the Whig 
Club, protested against the conduct of the Go- 
vernment. Some of them addressed the King, 
and complained of his Minister, that he had 
introduced the most corrupt practices into Parlia- 
ment for the purpose of buying the members ; 
that he had suspended the law of the land ; had 
imprisoned and transported the people without 
trial ; and, finally, had imposed on the country 
military law and military government. 

The following are extracts from the address of 
the people of Dublin to the King, 8th April, 

" Your Ministers have been publicly charged with the 
sale of peerages, for the purpose of procuring seats in Par- 
liament, and when evidence was offered to convict them of 
the same, they shrunk from the enquiry. Places have 
been created, for the professed purpose of procuring ma- 
jorities in Parliament, and these attacks upon the constitu- 
tion have been accompanied by a doctrine which pleaded 
for the necessity of corrupting the Legislature, in a me- 
morable declaration, equally public and audacious. 

u Your Ministers have endeavoured to support their 
system of corruption by terror and violence, and accord- 
ingly have applied to Parliament for the enaction of cer- 




tain statutes, namely, the Gunpowder Bill, Convention 
Bill, Insurrection Bill, and a bill for the suspension of the 
Habeas Corpus Act, whereby your subjects have been 
deprived of their personal liberty, their dearest rights, and 
of all those inestimable privileges, for the defence of which 
your Majesty's family was chosen to the sovereignty of 
these kingdoms. 

" That in addition to all this, your Ministers have of late 
issued an order for putting the North under military 
government and military execution — an order which 
amounts to an exercise of a dispensing power, lawless, un- 
precedented, and outrageous. That here we beg leave to 
submit to your Majesty how dangerous such a measure, if 
persisted in, may be to the connexion of the two countries, 
and how rash these Ministers must be who persevere in a 
war with France, and at the same time commence hostili- 
ties against the North of Ireland. 

" That the conduct of your Ministers towards the Ca- 
tholics of Ireland has been equally impolitic and illiberal ; 
and notwithstanding your gracious recommendation from 
the Throne in favour of your Catholic subjects, they 
caused several innocent members of the Catholic com- 
munion to be tried for their lives, and endeavoured by 
influence to exclude Catholics from those offices and fran- 
chises to which by law they were admissible, exercised 
against their characters the most unqualified abuse; and 
your English Ministers having authorized your representa- 
tive Earl Fitzwilliam to hold out the hopes of fuli'emanci- 
pation, they recalled him for supporting the same ; and 
when your people petitioned your Majesty in expressions 
of concern and disappointment, they received no answer, 
save only troops poured into this country by those Mi- 

Address from the county of Armagh, convened 
by the High Sheriff, 19th April :— 

" We complain, Sire, that the British constitution is 
enjoyed by us in name only. The English Cabinet is the 
real efficient power which guides, directs, and actuates the 
Irish Government. Through its influence, laws are capri- 
ciously enacted and repealed ; under its guidance, a system 
of organized corruption has established itself — and mea- 
sures are carried into effect, not by arguments drawn from 
reason and policy, but by the efforts of venality, frontless 



and unblushing ; coercive laws are made and penalties 
inflicted, altogether disproportioned to the alleged offences ; 
the people are goaded to madness by accumulated mi- 
series and oppression, and if they sigh or murmur, the 
sigh is treason and the murmur death. The Convention 
Bill has taken from your Majesty's subjects even the right 
to complain, the last sad refuge of distressed and suffering 
humanity. An enemy, powerful and full of animosity, has 
appeared on our coasts, and in the moment of distress, our 
Government manifested itself impotent and incapable of pro- 
tecting the people — yet, when the winds had providentially 
prevented the intended invasion, it prepared not to resist 
the returning foe, but to alienate the affections of the 
people, by despoiling them of their only protection — their 

a Your subjects, Sire, are daily committed to prison, 
under the Insurrection Act, for frivolous pretexts, and, 
that one cruelty may be superadded to another, the Habeas 
Corpus Act has been suspended, and innocent and un- 
offending men confined without hope of trial, liberation, or 
redress. The richest and most populous province in the 
kingdom has been, in defiance of truth and justice, stig- 
matized and illegally treated, as in a state of insurrection ; 
our most useful citizens, torn from their families and dearest 
connexions, are, without trial by jury, dragged to the fleet 
like the most atrocious felons, and military coercion has 
taken place of common law. 

"Sire, we humbly submit to your consideration, that if 
your people were fairly and adequately represented in Par- 
liament, most of these evils would have been prevented in 
their very origin. 

'* In this kingdom, three-fourths of your Majesty's loyal 
people are aliens to many of the blessings of the constitu- 
tion. The Roman Catholics exist under restrictions, hos- 
tile to the common rights of mankind, and disgraceful to 
the age in which we live. Your Majesty's Ministers, Sire, 
ungenerously taking advantage of these restrictions, have 
too long propagated amongst us religious animosities, and 
the fiery persecutions of merciless bigotry. Against these 
men, at this moment, Sire, Irishmen of every religious per- 
suasion lift up their voice with one accord. We arraign 
them of crimes at which humanity shudders, and from which 
Christianity turns an abhorrent eye. Of these enormities, 
we accuse them before our country — before the whole Bri- 




tish empire — before our King — in the face of the world — 
in the presence of God. For these reasons, Sire, we pray 
your Majesty to aid your people in reforming the Parlia- 
ment, in emancipating the Catholics, and to dismiss your 
present Ministers from your councils for ever/' 

The county of Antrim, summoned by the Sheriff, 
on the 8th of May, thus addressed his Majesty : — 

u Your Ministers have laboured with the most remorse- 
less perseverance, to revive those senseless and barbarous 
religious antipathies, so fatal to morals and to peace, 
and so abhorrent to the mild and merciful spirit of the 

" They have answered our demands for a full and fair 
participation of the rights and privileges of the British 
constitution, and our just complaints of their rapacity, 
corruption, and oppression, by the most atrocious calumnies 
against our characters, and the most merciless prosecution 
against our lives ; and, in order more effectually to or- 
ganize their system of vengeance and servitude, they have 
endeavoured, through the medium of spies and informers, 
* those baneful instruments of despotism/ to destroy pub- 
lic confidence, and poison the intercourse of private life ; 
they have employed the forms of that legislation, of which 
they had destroyed the substance, in the enactment of 
penal laws, by which they have successively abrogated the 
right of arms for self-protection, the right of being free 
from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and that sacred 
right of trial by a jury of our country :— -rights, for the 
protection of which ' the united will of a people resolved 
to be free/ called your Majesty's illustrious family to the 

" One enormity only remained unattempted by your 
Majesty's Ministers, and upon that too have they, at last, 
presumed to adventure, ' To set up a prerogative avowedly 
against the law,' and to let loose upon your subjects all 
the horrors of licentious power and military force, by send- 
ing bands of mercenaries in every direction, unattended in 
general by civil or even military officers, to plunder the 
houses, once the sanctuaries of your faithful people, of 
those arms, which were necessary for their protection and 
defence ; which form such an essential feature of discrimi- 
nation between the freeman and the slave ; and which 
(when assistance could not be obtained from your Majesty's 


Ministers) they voluntarily wielded in defence of your 
person and Government. 

" Such are the measures, by which the submission that 
the prerogative owes to the law, has been blasphemously 
disclaimed ; by which the constitution has given place to the 
bayonet, and the people have been put out of the protec- 
tion of the peace; by which numbers of our fellow-subjects 
have been banished, without even the forms of trial, or are 
daily crowded into dungeons, and this only, because they 
have dared to unite together, in the vindication of com- 
mon right, in the just and legal resistance of common 
oppression, in the kind and brotherly consolation of common 

'* Such, Sire, are the grievances of a people who know 
that their title to liberty is from God and Nature, which 
no human law can abrogate, nor authority take away. 

" Had your Majesty's people of Ireland, * without regard 
to religious distinction/ been fully and fairly represented 
in the Commons House of Parliament, the evils of which 
we complain could never have existed ; we therefore implore 
your Majesty, as you value the happiness of your people, 
to aid them in the speedy attainment of that inestimable 

The Whig Club and the Members of the Bar 
recorded their sentiments on the occasion. The 
following report was received from the committee 
appointed to inquire what steps it would be proper 
for the Club to take on behalf of their fellow-sub- 
jects in the North, and unanimously agreed to: — 

" Resolved, That we are of opinion, that the original 
cause of the present discontents of the North is to be 
traced to the inadequate representation of the people in 

" That those discontents have increased with the mea- 
sures taken to control them, and by those measures ; and 
that the plan of coercion has totally and entirely failed. 

"That the only remedy is a reform in Parliament, 
founded on the abolition of all religious distinctions, and 
that we will not be disheartened by the rejection of that 
measure, but will pursue the same in every situation in life, 
as the only measure likely to restore to the subject liberty, 
to the laws their due authority, and to secure the peace of 
the country." 




At a meeting of gentlemen of the Bar, on the 
17th day of May, 1797, Francis Dobbs, Esq., in 
the chair, the following resolutions were unani- 
mously agreed to ; and it was at the same time 
determined, that all persons present should sub- 
scribe their names, and such other gentlemen of 
the Bar as might approve thereof : — 

" Warmly attached to the constitution of King, Lords, 
and Commons, ardently wishing its preservation, and filled 
with the deepest anxiety, which a sense of present, and a 
dread of future calamity can produce, we feel ourselves 
called upon to come to the following resolutions: — 

" That we are of opinion, that all temperate and prudent 
means of conciliating the attachment of the people ought 
to have preceded the adoption of new and violent modes of 
coercion ; and that to rely on the latter in times of great 
national ferment, is inconsistent with the principles of a 
free constitution, calculated to inflame, rather than to 
repress disturbance, and promote rather than to check the 
progress of discontent. 

" That we are firmly persuaded that an adequate reform 
of the representation of the people, including the equal 
communication of political privilege, without distinction of 
religious opinions, and providing for the fair expression of 
the public sentiment in the House of Commons, is a mea- 
sure founded injustice, dictated by prudence, and pressed 
by necessity, and would at this awful crisis have the hap- 
piest and most powerful effect in restoring the tranquillity 
of the country, in depriving the friends of anarchy of a pre- 
text which shelters their criminal purposes, in reconciling 
to the constitution those who are dissatisfied only with its 
abuses, and in promoting a zealous and animated union 
amongst all virtuous citizens, so peculiarly necessary at the 
present moment, and without which it is impossible at any 
time to ensure a continuance of prosperity, strength, and 
happiness to a nation. 

" That the firm and temperate expression of these senti- 
ments by all in the community who entertain them, would 
be of the highest advantage at this alarming crisis ; serv- 
ing to convince Government of the propriety of yielding 
to the moderate wishes of the people, and thereby defeat- 
ing the designs of any party dangerous to the country, and 


incompatible with 
Francis Dobbs 
Alex. Stewart 
Joseph Huband 
George Barnes 
A. Seton 
J. Pratt Winter 
Thos. Geo. Digby 
Edw. Lavvson 
Wm. Colles 
Rich. Guinness 
Geo. French 
P. O'Hanlon 
George Evans 
H. T. Walsh 
John Guthrie 
J. Jn. M'Donald 
Bolton Waller 
J. P. Curran 
J. G. Lecky 
J. Moore 
T. A. Emmett 
J. Parsons 
T. C. Parsons 
C. F. Frizell 
Henry Sheares 

the principles and safety of our consti- 

Dan. Stewart 
R. C. Bryanton 
Peter Fox 
Wm. Berwick 
R. Bride 
J. R. Galbraith 

F. Evans 
C. Graydon 

C. Burton 
W. Cooley 
B. B. Harvey 
T. Church 

T. Smith 

G. P. Maquay 
T. Scott 

Jo. Wilson 
R. Johnson 
L. M'Nally 
R. N. Bennet 

D. T. Rice 
Wm. Smith 
J. F. D'Arcy 
Matthew Weld 

H. Adair 
Thos. Sinclair. 

F. Ma^an 
E. F. Hackett 
S. Ward 
R. Calcut 
Or. Grogan 
B. Hoare 
Peter Burroughs 
Wm. Sampson 
R. Holmes 
A. Dawson 
J. Donovan 
Rich. Collis 
Wm. Lackington 
Owen M'Dermott 
Robert Orr 
P. Locke 
Wm. Richards 
George Ponsonby 
George Grant 
John Cooke 
Henry Flood 
George Stawel 
John Moore, jun. 
Wm. O'Regan. 

Such were the terms in which the people of Ire- 
land spoke to the king, — a language not inferior to 
the remonstrances of the English in the time of 
Charles the First, which reflected such honour on 
the British name, — nor to the declaration of the 
American people at the period of their glorious re- 
volution, whose sober constitutional phraseology, 
replete with dignity and spirit, upheld the sacred 
principles of universal freedom. These addresses 
too of the Irish will live and uphold the character 
of their country, and rescue her name from unme- 
rited reproaches. The Government of Ireland, 
finding these proceedings were injurious to their 
character — likely to become general throughout 


the kingdom, and prove fatal to their continuance 
in office, resolved at once to stop them. On the 
17th of May, Government issued a proclamation* 
against the United Irishmen, and by it they pro- 
hibited all persons from meeting in unusual num- 
bers, under any pretence whatever, and ordered the 
military to suppress them. The proclamation was 
sent to Lord Carhampton|, (the commander-in- 
chief), who immediately issued a general order to 
the military to act without waiting for directions from 
the civil magistrate. In consequence of this, several 
counties that were about to assemble, counter- 
manded the meetings. Mr. Pelham, the Secretary, 
wrote to the High Sheriff of the King's County, 
and the county of Kildare, that the military would 
act, and that the Lord Lieutenant would direct His 
Majesty's forces to prevent an assembly so unusual as 
the meeting of the inhabitants of a county ; and ac- 
cordingly an armed party of soldiers took post in the 
room, where the freeholders of one of the counties were 
to assemble! Such were the measures pursued by 
Lord Camden, Lord Clare, and Mr. Pitt ! — such 
was the mode to stifle the voice of the nation ! 

Mr. Grattan, finding that his exertions were ho 
longer of any avail, — that he could not support the 
measures of Government consistently with his 
duty or his feelings, nor oppose them with any 
hope of success ; and unwilling by further oppo- 
sition to countenance the united party, whose 
principles he entirely disapproved of, determined 
not merely to secede along with Mr. Ponsonby 
and other members of that party, but to retire 
from parliament altogether. As the general elec- 
tion now approached, a meeting of the freemen 
and freeholders of Dublin was held on the 29th of 
July, 1797, when it was resolved — 

* Report of Secret Committee, No. 11, p. 120. 
t Idem, No. 12, p. 128. 


"That by right and the principles of the constitution, 
the people are entitled exclusively to appoint the third 
estate of the Legislature, and that the security of her civil 
and political liberty depends upon the uninterrupted enjoy- 
ment of that indefeasible right. 

u That as the Commons House is at present constituted, 
the return of more than two-thirds thereof is usurped by a 
few individuals as private property, and that as to the 
remainder, any attempt to exercise the popular right is ren- 
dered fruitless, through the corrupt and enormous influence 
of the Crown, and hazardous through the recent introduc- 
tion and violent exercise of a military power, by which 
great numbers of our unfortunate countrymen, on the 
slightest suspicions of their entertaining political opinions 
different from those of the present Administration, have 
had their houses burned, or been themselves transported 
or put to death without even the form of accusation or 
trial ! 

"That not wishing to have any exercise of the elective 
suffrage that is not free, nor any representation of the 
people that is not full, fair, and adequate, we will abstain 
from any interference whatever at the ensuing election, 
and, as far as in us lies, leave to the King's Ministers the 
appointment of the King's Parliament. 

"That we do heartily approve of the principles and sen- 
timents contained in the Address of our late excellent 
representative the Right Hon. Henry Grattan ; and 
that we are sensible he has not retired from that post 
which he so eminently filled as long as any hope remained 
that the Parliamentary exercise of his virtues and talents 
could be of advantage to his country. But we trust 
he will recollect that his public duty does not cease with 
his representative situation." 

* V. B. Lawless, Chairman/'* 

To these resolutions Mr. Grattan replied in the 
following manner : — 

My Fellow-citizens, — A slight indisposition has pre- 
vented me from giving your resolution an immediate 
answer. When the country is put down — the press 
destroyed — and public meetings, for the purpose of exer- 
cising the right of petition to remove Ministers, are 

* Afterwards Lord Cloncurry, created a peer of England during the 
administration of Lord Anglesey, September, 1831. 



threatened and dispersed by the military, I agree with you 
that a general election is no more than an opportunity to 
exercise, by permission of the army, the solitary privilege 
to return a few representatives of the people to a House 
occupied by the representatives of boroughs. 

" When the Irish Parliament was perpetual or provincial, 
it was of little moment how that Parliament was con- 
stituted ; but becoming independent, it became essential 
that it should become constitutional ; and in order to be 
constitutional, it was necessary that the Commons should 
form an integral part thereof ; fourteen years you gave to 
the experiment, and having failed, withdraw. You refuse 
to take a small portion of that representation, the whole of 
which belongs to you ; you will not confirm an unjust dis- 
tribution of your property, by becoming a poor rent- 
charger on a poor portion of your inheritance ; you refuse 
to give your sanction to your exclusion, and will not 
attend a ceremony which has proved the trade of the indi- 
vidual and the ruin of the country. While I entertain such 
an opinion, I beg to express my profound respect for some 
enlightened and valuable individuals who differ from me ; 
opposed to their opinion, I should suspect my own if it was 
not fortified by yours. I think the people of this country 
are perfectly right when they insist to be nothing less than 
the whole of the third estate : the people are in contem- 
plation of the constitution only a part of the Legislature ; 
but they are the whole of the Commons. Is that too 
much ? They gave the Crown — they ask the representa- 
tion : they ask the representation of that Prince to whom 
they gave the Crown. Without derogating from any of 
those rights which exist, independent of any artificial 
formation, the people claim under the general constitution 
of the land, and under their own particular declaration of 
right, to be an integral part of the Legislature. The con- 
stitution tells them that their liberty exists in their exemp- 
tion from any laws save those to which by representation 
they consent; their declaration of right tells them that the 
King, the Lords, and the Commons of Ireland, are the 
only body competent to make her laws, by which it is not 
only asserted that the Irish Parliament is exclusively the 
Irish Legislature, but that the people are an integral part 
thereof. If then the people are not suffered to form that 
integral part, the constitution of the realm and the claim 
of right are evaded and defeated. The Minister stands in 



the place of Parliament — he becomes the arbiter of your 
lives and fortunes, and transfers that dominion to the Bri- 
tish Cabinet, on whom he depends ; and thus re-imposes 
on this realm the legislative power of another country. 
When your Ministers tell you that the reform of Parlia- 
ment was only a popular pretence, I cannot believe them 
to be in earnest. I wish they had made the experiment — 
happy had it been for the country — happy had it been for 
themselves — they would then indeed have possessed but 
one-third of the constitution, but they would not have lost 
the whole of the empire. 

" Foreign disgrace leads naturally, and of course, to the 
subject of domestic oppression. I cannot here omit that 
part of your resolution w hich adverts to the barbarities com- 
mitted on the habitations, property, and persons of the 
people — and I beg to join with yours my testimony against 
such repeated, wanton, savage, abominable, and permitted 
outrages — barbarities and murders, such as no printer will 
now dare to publish, lest he should be plundered or mur- 
dered for the ordinary exercise of his trade. 

" I beg to take this opportunity of returning my thanks 
to the Aldermen of Skinner's-alley, who have expressed 
their approbation of my conduct. I do believe our mea- 
sures were agreeable to the sense of the nation — I lament 
they were not seconded by the majority of Parliament — if 
that majority, whose motives I do not discuss, whose 
infatuation I lament ; — if that majority, instead of attach- 
ing itself to the Court, had considered itself as part and 
parcel of the people, they had consulted their dignity bet- 
ter. Why am I superior to Ministers or Viceroys ? Be- 
cause I do not assume to be superior to my fellow-citizens. 
Had that majority taken a proud post, and identified with 
the people — had they seized the opportunity of doing jus- 
tice to Ireland, and instead of voting millions without get- 
ting anything for the country, supported us in our motion 
to ameliorate the condition of the peasantry — in our mo- 
tion in an equal trade — in our attempts to emancipate the 
Catholics, and to reform the Parliament, their country 
would now have liberty and peace instead of distraction at 
home and negociation abroad — where the British negocia- 
tor remains with 110 Irish boroughs about his neck to pay 
for every felony the Minister has committed on the Irish — 
so many Erics in empire. 

" You express a wish that my public duty shall not cease 


with my representative capacity. In that idea I entirely 
concur. My seat in Parliament was but a part of my 
situation ; my relation to my country was higher and more 
permanent — the duty of a citizen is commensurate with 
his powers of body and mind. 

" I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect, your 
most humble servant, " H. Grattan." 

The military measures of the Government were 
now coming into operation, and were carried to such 
extremes, that men left the service in disgust. 
Lord Bellamont had retired from the command of 
the Cavan militia, owing to his not approving of 
General Lake's proclamation. The Duke of Lein- 
ster now gave up the command of the Kildare 
militia; his brother, Lord Henry Fitzgerald, retired 
from the representation of the city of Dublin ; and 
Mr. Grattan, who had joined a yeomanry corps, 
also sent in his resignation ; his health having suf- 
fered, and his mind worn by politics, he retired to 
Castle Connell, a watering place, in the county 
of Limerick, on the borders of the Shannon, famed 
for the salubrity of its waters : prior to this, he ad- 
dressed " A Letter to his Fellow Citizens ,"* that 
excited a considerable sensation, and drew upon 
him the anger and attack of the Government party. 
It forms almost an epitome of Irish history, and 
is remarkable for its ability, its spirit, and its con- 
stitutional principles. Many persons, however, 
disapproved of its appearing at such a crisis, and, 
though replete with sound doctrine and sage ad- 
vice, yet in the agitated state of the public mind, 
it was considered injudicious to publish to the 
nation such a detail of national grievance and mi- 
nisterial delinquencies ; the danger, however, did 
not come from the statement of the grievance, but 
from the evils that caused it ; and it must be re- 
membered that the opposition party had been 

* Grattan's Miscellaneous Works, vol, v. p. 40. 


greatly provoked and abused in the extreme, charged 
with every bad intention, and every deed and word 
short of high treason. — Curran had been driven 
from Chancery by one judge,* and censured for 
being counsel to the United Irish by another ;f 
so that their opponents had entirely disentitled 
themselves to any lenity or forbearance. But what- 
ever may have been the criticism of the times, such 
nice distinctions will be unknown in the records of 
its history ; — the production will live not only on 
account of its talent, but its truth. To the Irish 
minister it will ever remain a bitter reproach, — of 
the memory of Mr. Pitt the severest, because the 
justest condemnation. The concluding passage 
is the only one that is here introduced : — 

" Self-legislation is life, and has been sought for, as for 
being. It was that principle that called forth resistance 
to the House of Stuart, and baptized with royalty the 
House of Hanover, when the people stood sponsors for 
their allegiance to the liberty of the subject ; for Kings 
are but satellites, and your freedom is the luminary that 
has called them to the skies. It was with a view therefore 
to restore liberty, and with a view also to secure and 
immortalize royalty, by restoring to the people self-legisla- 
tion, we proposed reform. A principle of attraction 
about which the King and people would spin on quietly 
and insensibly in regular movements, and in a system 
common to them both. 1 No — no — no — the half-million,' 
said the Minister, 1 that is my principle of attraction. 
Among the rich, I send my half-million, and I dispatch 
my coercion among the people.' His devil went forth — he 
destroyed liberty and property — he consumed the press — 
he burned houses and villages — he murdered, and he 
failed. * Recal your murderer,' we said, 'and in his place 
dispatch our messenger — try conciliation. You have de- 
clared you wish the people should rebel, to which we 
answer, God forbid ! — rather let them weary the royal ear 
with petitions, and let the dove be again sent to the King; 
it may bring back the olive — and as to you, thou mad 
Minister ! who pour in regiment after regiment to dragoon 

* Lord Clare. 

t Carleton. See ante, Vol. III. p. 422. 


the Irish, because you have forfeited their affections, we 
beseech, we supplicate, we admonish, — reconcile the people 
— combat revolution by reform- — let blood be your last ex- 
periment/ Combat the spirit of democracy by the spirit 
of liberty — the wild spirit of democratic liberty by the 
regulated spirit of organized liberty, such as may be found 
in a limited monarchy with a free Parliament ; but how 
accomplish that but by reforming the present Parliament, 
whose narrow and contracted formation in both countries 
excludes popular representation — i. e. excludes self-legis- 
lation — i, e. excludes liberty, and whose fatal compliances, 
the result of that defective representation, have caused, or 
countenanced, or sanctioned, or suffered for a course of 
years, a succession of measures which have collected upon 
us such an accumulation of calamity — and which have 
finally at an immense expence, and through a sea of blood, 
stranded these kingdoms on a solitary shore, naked of 
empire, naked of liberty, and naked of innocence, to ponder 
on an abyss which has swallowed up one part of their for- 
tunes, and yawns for the remainder. 

" May the Kingly power, that forms one estate in our 
constitution, continue for ever ; but let it be as it pro- 
fesses to be, and as by the principles and laws of these 
countries, it should be, one estate only — and not a power 
constituting one estate, creating another, and influencing a 

u May the Parliamentary constitution prosper; but let it 
be an operative, independent, and integral part of the con- 
stitution, advising, confining, and sometimes directing, the 
Kingly power. 

" May the House of Commons flourish ; but let the 
people be the sole author of its existence, as they should be 
the great object of its care. 

" May the connexion with Great Britain continue ; but 
let the result of that connexion be, the perfect freedom, in 
the fairest and fullest sense, of all descriptions of men, with- 
out distinction of religion. 

"To this purpose we spoke — and speaking this to no 
purpose, withdrew. It now remains to add this supplica- 
tion : — However it may please the Almighty to dispose of 
Princes, or of Parliaments — may the liberties of the 
people be immortal! 

" Henry Grattan." 


The disorders and the misfortunes of the country- 
were greatly increased by the character and tone 
of the Irish Government, composed of men vio- 
lent, prejudiced, and intemperate : the principal 
of these was Lord Clare, who seemed not to pos- 
sess the power of keeping his temper under any 
controul whatsoever, but allowed it to grow over- 
bearing and petulant in the extreme; accompanying 
it with an insulting style and address, so that his 
passions seemed to get the complete mastery of his 
understanding, and his judgment ceased to direct 
or influence. At the opening of the session he had 
begun with a violent attack on the leaders of the 
Opposition, and on the great measures that had been 
obtained for the country : he went through their 
history from 1778 to 1797, denouncing the friends 
of the country as enemies to all well-regulated 
Government : to the connexion between the two 
countries, and attributing to them and to their 
speeches, the demands put forward by the Catho- 
lics, and the discontent that prevailed among the 

This style being quickly imitated, proved to be 
of great disservice, and very injurious, not merely 
to the gravity of debate, but to the tone and temper 
that should regulate the proceedings of a delibera- 
tive assembly ; and above all, when such grave 
affairs distracted the country. 

The first victim of his anger was Lord Aldborough : 
— he had disapproved of some parts of the address 
at the opening of the session, in consequence of 
which Lord Clare fell upon him with bitter scorn, 
and relentless rage. The former replied with be- 
coming spirit, but introduced much extraneous 
matter relating to a cause in court, in which he 
was interested, and on which the Chancellor had 
decided, in his opinion, partially and unjustly. 
This speech Lord Aldborough published ; it was 
x 2 


represented to the House by Lord Clare, as libel- 
lous ; the Lords directed the Attorney-General to 
prosecute Lord Aldborough, and he was subse- 
quently tried,* found guilty, and sentenced to 
twelve months' imprisonment, and a fine of one 
thousand pounds. 

Lord Clare's attack upon the proceedings of 
1782, and upon those men who upheld the inter- 
ests of the country, and the rights of the people, 
was not, however, equally successful. Mr. Grattan 
took a prompt opportunity of defending them, — a 
step indispensably necessary, as the leaders of the 
Opposition were now so assailed, that they would 
have soon ceased to be respected, if these repeated 
attacks by the Government party had been suf- 
fered to pass without reprehension. Accordingly, 
on the debate on the Channel trade, he alluded to 
the conduct which had been adopted towards his 
friends, which he vindicated from the aspersions 
cast upon them, defending the measures of 1782, 
and the subsequent efforts that were made on be- 
half of the rights of the country. He concluded 
as follows : — 

"It is not opposition, nor the language of opposition, 
nor public injury ; but it is insult added to injury; it is 
both the injury and the insult, inflamed by a feverish and 
idle tongue, and by the public nuisance of gross, petulant, 
and offensive manners. These are the circumstances that 
irritated the people, — the little penknife of the implacable 
pleader and his dirty quill, mangling his country's charac- 
ter, and her wounds, are best calculated to make her frantic. 
* * # # 

" Against such charges and statements, I beg to enter 
my protest, as opprobrious and pusillanimous, as arraign- 
ing past concessions, as tending to prevent future ones, 
betraying the fair pretensions of the country, disparaging 
for seventeen years back, without distinction, all her exer- 
tions ; as fraught with charges against the public and the 

* Mr. Dowries, afterwards Chief Justice, who tried the Catholic dele- 
gates in 1812, presided at this trial. 

chap, ix.] MR. pitt's disapproval. 


individuals demonstratively false, and introduced with a 
lurking and dirty view, to flatter a British court at the 
expence of the Irish character, and conveyed in an unman- 
nered strain of feminine intemperance. " 

It may, however, be questioned, on the whole, 
whether Lord Clare was not mismanaged, and 
whether it would not have been better to have left 
him to himself. Mr. Pitt would have soon grown 
tired both of him and his party, and have treated 
them before the Union, as he did after it, with 
neglect. He did not approve of his measures ; for 
when Mr. Sheridan made a motion* in the British 
House of Commons respecting Ireland, Mr. Pitt's 
friend (George Canning) went across the House, 
and told him that Pitt disapproved of the pro- 
ceedings of Lord Clare as much as he (Sheridan) 
did, but shaped, as the motion was, that Mr. Pitt 
could not support it. Unfortunately, the United 
Irishmen set him up, by their violence and illegal 
conduct, and gave him the victory. If they had 
not joined the French against England, Mr. Pitt 
would not have joined Lord Clare against them ; 
but when he found that they proceeded to treason, 
he abandoned them. Their error was in joining 
with France : had it not been for this, they would 
have succeeded ; but when Pitt found that they 
abandoned England for France, he abandoned 
them to Lord Clare. It would have been a wiser 
course for the Opposition to have protested equally 
against him and against the United Irishmen; 
they could have been moderate, but firm, and 
would have shown more prudence if they had 
been less violent. They should have stated, that 
they would support Government if they acted 
mildly ; if not, that they would retire. But politi- 
cians, in the heat of action, cannot become philoso- 
phers ; and, certainly, they had every reason to be 

* Motion on supply, 1797. 




angry, for they had been ill treated, grossly de- 
ceived, and greatly abused. The people had a 
very strong case, but, unfortunately, they did not 
know how to state it, and were ignorant of their 
own strength. If they had been satisfied with 
remonstrance and passive resistance, they would 
have prevailed ; so that, on the whole, it is diffi- 
cult to say which party acted worse : — the Go- 
vernment acted ill, and the United Men, who 
enabled that Government to take away their 
liberty, acted equally so. The Clare party if con- 
trolled would have been better than the insurgent 
party: the latter, if they succeeded, would have cut 
each other's throats ; for the slave and the tyrant 
are closely allied ; and, perhaps, in a question be- 
tween two ills, — the courtier of the crown and the 
courtier of the people, — the latter will be found the 
least preferable: his measures are not so bad, but 
his principles are infinitely worse. 

The following letters are not devoid of interest. 
Doctor Haliday was the friend of LordCharlemont, 
his admirer, his supporter, his correspondent, — a 
man of letters, of science, and of taste, — strongly 
attached to liberty, to the principles of the Con- 
stitution, and the interests of his country. He 
had met Lord Camden's father in 1782. At a 
great period of Irish history, he had met that dis- 
tinguished individual; he had accompanied him 
to the reviews of the Volunteers in the north ; he 
had heard their conduct admired and extolled by 
that constitutional character, and he now strove to 
excite in the mind of his son a sentiment of regard 
towards the country that had been praised by the 
father, or, at least, to awaken in his bosom some 
feelings of humanity. He was well acquainted 
with the disposition of his countrymen ; he knew 
the results that would follow from General Lake's 
proclamation, and the horrors inseparable from 


military government. He strove to soften the Lord 
Lieutenant, and addressed to him the following 
mild, sensible, and manly letter ; but it produced 
no good — it was heeded not — it was felt not * — 

Mens immota manet, lachrymae volvuntur inanes ! 

My dear Lord Camden; — Inexpressibly obliged to 
your Lordship for your favour and condescension so repeat- 
edly experienced, I feel it my duty, however averse from 
giving your Lordship trouble, to trespass on your good- 
ness. In the letter your Lordship lately honoured me with, 
you seem to think the harsh measures pursuing in the pro- 
scribed North, and which you would gladly have avoided, 
if not necessary, are lenient compared with those its inha- 
bitants merit. My Lord, I am an old man, perfectly ac- 
quainted with this my native town and country for half a 
century; and as I was very early admitted into the society 
of the aged, 1 may safely say, for a whole one; during 
which both have been noted for a warm attachment to the 
constitution, to the Revolution, to the succession in the 
House of Brunswick, and to all the monarchs who have 
filled the throne since the Revolution, excepting Queen 
Anne, during the last four high-flying years of her reign, 
when the Whigs, by much the most numerous and respect- 
able part of the people, were insulted and kept down by a 
contemptible Tory party, aided by the strong hand of Go- 
vernment, and a debased and unprincipled magistracy. 
The people in these parts are a reading and a thinking 
people, pretty generally acquainted with the history of these 
nations— with the principles of the Constitution — with the 
writings of Sydney, Locke, Hoadley, &c. When, in the year 
— 15, a rebellion broke out in Scotland, this town was the 
first in the kingdom to arm in support of a beloved king 
and family : in the year - 45, when the last rebellion raged 
from that now favoured country to the heart of England, 
the inhabitants formed themselves into three companies, of 
one hundred men each, and upwards, well armed, well dis- 
ciplined, and clothed in their respective uniforms, all at 
their own expense ; and at the request of Government, 
although unaided by it, garrisoned Carrickfergus for ten 
days, that is, till the danger of a descent was over. What 
unanimity, zeal, and courage, did not the inhabitants of 
• See Moore, 2d vol., as to his treatment of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. 


dr. italiday's letter [chap. IX- 

these proscribed counties display on the landing of the 
French, under Flobert, in the year - 60! Mr. Pitt* was the 
Minister, and never was one more admired, indeed adored, 
nor could any man be more respected and beloved than his 
excellent friend, your father, was, by us. It wrings my 
heart to behold the alteration in the state of things here, in 
this year -97, from what it was in the year - 59, when 
nothing but cheerful countenances was to be met with, no- 
thing but exultation for interesting victories, rapidly suc- 
cessive, to be heard, while unreserved mutual confidence 
universally prevailed. What a total and sad reverse do we 
now witness ! Whence has this deplorable change origi- 
nated ? — The problem is of easy solution, or, to speak with 
more precision, the question is not problematic. I may 
venture to give a negative answer to it, — surely not from the 
people. The signal and unbought services of our old 
Volunteers, who proved at once a wall of defence for their 
threatened, and by Government, abandoned country, and 
effectual conservators of internal peace, of law, and of order, 
are of such recent date, and so universally acknowledged, 
that I should not have mentioned them, but as an intro- 
duction to a little anecdote. At the great review of these 
national guardians, having the honour to walk with your 
illustrious father along the front of one of the brigades, 
he said to me, " Holiday, I should not have believed this, 
had I not seen it, — it is a glorious exhibition, but remember 
what I tell you ; keep it up, for, depend upon it, England 
considers it an insult, and will, when she can, make you feel 
that she does so." By what I have honestly and truly men- 
tioned above, your Lordship may be led to conclude that 
the inhabitants of these parts possess a general and com- 
petent knowledge of, and attachment to, the doctrines of 
civil and religious liberty ; of course they could not con- 
template with unconcern the very imperfect state of the re- 
presentation — they were confirmed in their conviction of the 
necessity of some reform, by its being so forcibly impressed 
upon the public mind, by their idol, the great Lord Chat- 
ham ; by that first of constitutional lawyers — your excellent 
and venerated father ; by the present Minister, before he 
became such, and by many of the able and illustrious cha- 
racters in both kingdoms, whom they looked up to as the 
wisest and best friends of the constitution, and of the 
empire; by the unqualified declarations, and zealous efforts 
* Lord Chatham. 




of most respectable delegates in the Convention of Dungan- 
non and Dublin ; and by the admission on both sides of our 
House of Commons, in the year „- 93 (I think it was), that. 
Reform in the representation was indispensable. And they 
certainly beheld with equal concern and indignation their 
expectations respecting it disappointed by some in power, 
who had formerly cherished and encouraged them; while 
the necessity for the measure was rendered still more forcibly 
striking and urgent, by an extended system of corruption, 
established and avowed* and which went the length of 
setting the peerage to sale, for the express purpose of still 
further contaminating and debasing the popular branch of 
the legislature. It was then generally concluded that Ire- 
land could never speak out with effect, while the nation 
remained so unfortunately divided ; and hence arose the pro- 
ject of uniting the people of every religious persuasion, of 
forming societies of United Irishmen, from which I and 
most others of our principal inhabitants, of much greater 
celebrity, kept aloof, judging that the overcoming at once 
the inveterate religious prejudices, or extinguishing at once 
animosities excited by deep injuries, reciprocally inflicted 
by contending sects, however much to be wished, was not 
to be hoped for. We had likewise thought the Catholics, 
who had been miserably neglected on the important ar- 
ticle of education, had not attained to that degree of in- 
formation and liberality of mind, which should have pre- 
ceded their free and full admission within the pale of the 
Constitution ; and, therefore, that this should be opened 
to them gradually. Finally, and above all, we disapproved 
of the members being bound together by an oath ; yet I 
am convinced that the previous and sole object of their 
associations was, the letting into the franchise of the con- 
stitution three-fourths of the population of Ireland, who had 
for a long series of years been excluded from it, in the hopes 
that the voice of the people might, in consequence, become 
more energetic and efficacious. 

We afterwards saw, with deep concern, this kind of union 
embracing in its spread the very lowest classes of the people, 
who, not understanding or entering into its original views 
and purposes, took up far different ones, unwarrantable, 
and threatening confusion, with all its incalculable conse- 
quences. Would to Heaven, my Lord, that something con- 
ciliatory had early been attempted, instead of those exaspe- 
* Mr. Fitzgibbon's speeches, 1789. 



rating measures which have been progressively pursued both 
in and out of Parliament, and which some think have scarcely 
left a feature of the Constitution discernible ! Whether any- 
thing in the way which I know would be congenial to your 
Lordship's feelings, would now do, I cannot pretend to say; 
but humanity, — -justice, which is always the soundest policy, — 
magnanimity, seem all to plead for the trial; — the alterna- 
tive is too horrible to think of! One word more — the 
stop to the circulation of cash must add infinitely to the 
general distress, confusion, and danger. Our manufactu- 
rers are thrown idle — they cannot starve, and are not suf- 
fered to emigrate in search of the means of living in other 
countries ; nor, were they permitted, have they the means 
of doing it. Forgive me, my Lord, for the great freedom 
I have taken, — stimulated to it by an old and warm attach- 
ment to my native town and country, and a most anxious 
wish for the peace and prosperity, reputation, and happiness 
of Ireland, and the whole British empire. 

I have the honour to be, my Lord, with all due respect 
for your elevated rank, with the highest esteem for your 
character, and with gratitude for your kindness and conde- 
scension, Your most faithful and obliged Servant, 

Alexander Haliday. 

Your Excellency will perceive by the date of the en- 
closed, that it has lain many days by me ; the truth is, that 
with all my esteem for your Excellency's candour and 
goodness, I was fearful of incurring the censure of pre- 
sumption and impertinence. 

" Vincet amor patriae et nos amori cedamus." 

These three first words put me in mind of the Volunteers. 
" Dat jura per populos, vimque affectat Olympo." 
which the great Lord Chatham, in a speech, during the 
American war, quoted from Virgil, as not only the greatest 
poet, but the best politician of antiquity; nor did that truly 
great man disdain, on the same occasion , to repeat in the 
House of Commons (or Lords) from a burletta song — 
" Be to her virtues very kind ; 
Be to her faults a little blind, 
And hang the padlock on the mind." 

Belfast, March 29, 1797. 


South-street, April 7, 1797. 
Dear Sir, — I did not answer your letters which I 
received some months ago, for some time, because not 




having made up my mind whether I should move any 
thin^ upon the affairs of Ireland, I wished not to write 
till I had come to a decision ; and since that period I have 
really scarce had a moment to myself; at all events, I 
hope you will attribute my silence to any other motive 
rather than to a want of thankfulness for your kind commu- 
nications, or of personal regard and attention to yourself. 

If the newspapers have given a tolerably fair account of 
my speech upon the affairs of Ireland, you will doubtless 
have remarked, that I have proceeded principally upon 
the facts and arguments with which you furnished me. 
The answer to me was, as I expected, chiefly grounded 
upon the impropriety of our interference with your inde- 
pendent Legislature ; and I observe, by the newspapers, 
that this topic is to be brought forward in Dublin, for the 
purpose of making me unpopular on your side of the chan- 
nel. I am sure even the Parliament of Ireland can have 
no right to complain of me upon this subject, when I put 
the case (as I did) upon the fact of perfect reciprocity; for 
I contended, and do contend, that if Great Britain were 
in such a disturbed state as that a considerable portion of 
it (Yorkshire, for instance) was put by the Government 
out of the King's peace, or even if things were in such a 
state as to threaten such a calamity, I say in such a case it 
would be justifiable and creditable in your Parliament 
to address the King to adopt lenient councils, &c. ; and how 
much more so if you saw that he was likely to call upon 
you for men and money to subdue his British subjects. I 
am sure I need use no further arguments upon a subject 
upon which I believe our opinions are exactly alike ; but 
as I see Mr. Ogle and Dr. Duigenan mean to make a 
violent attack upon this business, I should wish to know, 
that what I have done, is at least not disapproved of by 
the minority of the Irish House of Commons, and this not 
so much for my own private satisfaction, as because 
I think it material for the public interest, that the two 
Ministers should act in the affairs of Ireland upon similar 
principles, although I confess I have little hope of either, or 
both of them jointly, being able to effect any good, or pre- 
vent the absolute ruin of the two countries. 

If there is any measure more likely than another to 
give us a chance of salvation, I think it would be a 
general expression, on the part of the people of Ireland, of 
their wish for the removal of Ministers, or perhaps of Pitt 




personally, as a first step to reform of abuses. I am sure 
you are of too liberal a nature to attribute my opinion on 
this point to motives either of ambition or resentment. 
The truth is, that without a change of Ministry no good 
can be done, either with you or with us : — without it 
we cannot have peace : you cannot have reform ; nor real 
independence ; and I see enough of the state of things here 
to be persuaded that no change will take place without a 
determined expression of the sense of the people. Whe- 
ther even that will do, I doubt; but the petitions here 
would certainly acquire considerable additional weight 
from being backed by the wishes of the people of Ireland. 

However, whether such measures as I point out be or be 
not practicable in Ireland, you must be abetter judge than 
I ; and to your judgment, and to that of others who think 
with you, in this instance I implicitly defer; — at all 
events, I think it is a time in which inactivity on either 
side of the channel is nearly criminal. Ruin almost cer- 
tain is coming on, and when it arrives, it will be a mi- 
serable excuse for having done nothing to prevent it, that 
we thought we .could do no good. 

I have gone farther upon this subject than I intended ; 
but the dreadful view I have of public affairs is such, 
that when I am writing to, or conversing with a person, 
whom I think capable of comprehending the real mag- 
nitude of the objects before us, I hardly know when to 
leave off. 

I really think that the existence of the funded property 
of England, and the connexion between our two countries, 
depend upon the measures to be taken in a few, in a very few 

I am, with great regard, dear Sir, yours ever, 

C. J. Fox. 

Lord Camden had conferred the bishoprick of 
Waterford on Mr. Grattan's uncle (Richard Mar- 
ley.) He had in him a warm supporter, anxious 
for the success of his administration. He was 
desirous to soften the opposition of his nephew, 
and he wrote to him without reserve ; but al- 
though he differed from Mr. Grattan in politics, 
his affection remained unchanged. Mr. Grattan's 
reply shows the goodness of his heart, and his rec- 


titude in upholding principles which he considered 
to be right, even at the risk of losing the friendship 
of a relation he so highly valued : — 


Jervis-street, \4th May, 1797. 

My dear Harry, — Before we settle in the country, I 
wish we could settle the business of Anne's fortune.* 

I have read the report of the secret committee : its truth 
cannot be doubted. 

The leaders of your party, who do not in the most public 
manner speak their abhorrence of the United Irishmen, 
and their plans, must be thought cowards that fear them, 
or traitors who wish them success, and would wade through 
blood to get into power. Such is my opinion, and such 
the opinion of all, who are not the slaves and tools of party, 
and the friends of riot and murder. 

I speak most disinterestedly on the subject: you must 
be convinced how sincerely I wish your happiness, and how 
anxious I am that your character may not be thought like 
the characters of those with whom you often live. 

You have excellent parts, — and most uncommon appli- 
cation, — in judgment you never err, — your honesty never 
fails. I hope I shall never see you tormented with 

Your enemies say your ambition is restless and childish 
— I hope it may be disappointed for your sake, and that 
Popery may not be established and Christianity destroyed 
by popish art, zeal, and tyranny. I am not vain enough to 
suppose, that any thin^ that I can say can change your 
opinion ; I write, I confess, to vent my feelings, and to 
assure you, I must be your very affectionate f 

R. Waterford. 


Mth May, 1797. 

My dear Uncle; — Anne's business we will settle when 
you please. 

I love you for your advice ; it was, however, impossible 
* A connexion of the Bishop's. 

f When he was dying, he desired that his property should be left 
solely to Mr. Grattan ; but the latter, with that disinterestedness that al- 
ways marked his character in money matters, insisted that it should be 
divided among his relations, and in consequence Mr. Grattan got one- 
fourth instead of the entire. 


for us to concur in the address on the report, because that 
address contained unqualified approbation of the system of 
coercion, with unqualified exhortation to pursue it. As far as 
a temperate manner of repeating my real opinions, perhaps 
errors, your advice certainly had its influence. When you 
wish that I may not be tormented with power, I am con- 
vinced you are my friend, and in that wish, I believe you 
will succeed. You over-rate my industry, and my talents ; 
but then you think you restore the balance of justice when 
you mention the errors of my judgment. You are mis- 
taken, believe me; I have committed more errors in judg- 
ment than ever you charge me with ; and it is your par- 
tiality that sees so few, and not your prejudice that sees so 
many. There is one error of judgment which I shall never 
commit, and against which my head, as well as my heart 
protects me — 1 shall never cease to love, respect, and ad- 
mire you. Yours ever, H. Grattan. 

When Mr. Grattan found that the Irish Go- 
vernment proceeded to such violent measures, that 
the people were almost handed over to the mili- 
tary ; and that he might be called to act against 
them, and in a manner inconsistent with his duty 
and feelings as a man of humanity and a freeman, 
he determined no longer to remain in the yeo- 
manry corps, which on their formation he had 
joined as a private; and, accordingly, he sent in 
his resignation, and addressed this letter to his 
commanding officer : — 


May, 1797. 

My dear Sir ; — It gives me great concern that the late 
determination of Government, with respect to the people 
of Ireland, should have been against measures of concilia- 
tion, and for measures of coercion and force. Such a de- 
termination makes it impossible for me to hold any military 
situation, however insignificant, under a government so 
disposed. If ever I am sent into actual service, it shall never 
be against my country. 

I have a very high opinion of our corps, and its officers, 

* See the account of this Corps — Holt's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 292. 




and a love for both. I, therefore, take my leave with much 
affection and regret. And am, dear sir, yours very truly, 

H. Grattan. 


Castle Connelly 1797. 
Dr. M'Cak; — I got your letter of the 18th full time 
enough. I find myself better ; however, my stomach 
strengthens but slowly — still it gets strength — the wea- 
ther begins to improve — it has been intolerable. / read 
the accounts of executions, and convictions.* y Tis a melan- 

* The case that excited the strongest sympathy was that of William 
Orr, a respectable farmer in the north of Ireland, brother to a lawyer of 
that name. He had been in prison for upwards of a year, and at length 
was brought to trial, charged by a soldier of the Scotch Fencibles with 
administering to him the United Irishmen's oath. This man's testi- 
mony was impeached on the ground of character; and Mr. Curran 
stated that a subsequent enquiry disclosed the infamous life and repu- 
tation of this informer. The jury deliberated for thirteen hours, and at 
length found him guilty, but with a recommendation to mercy. Two- 
jurors deposed before Baron Yelverton (who tried the case along with 
Judge Chamberlane) that whisky had been brought into the jury-box, and 
administered to the jurors — and that some of them were under the influence 
of liquor when they found their verdict ; another swore that he was in- 
duced to find the prisoner guilty on the ussuiunce by some of the jurors, 
that the Government would not execute him. II is brother, anxious to 
save him, forged his name to a confession of guilt, on the understanding 
that some of the leading gentry of the county of Antrim would apply to 
Government in his favour ; but they subsequently declined. The 
judge submitted to the Lord lieutenant the recommendations for mercy. 
The prisoner was three times reprieved ! The witness Wheatly declared 
that what he had sworn against him was false ; but yet Lord Camden was 
inexorable, and at the end of a month the unfortunate man was ex- 
ecuted, lie had indignantly refused to declare he was guilty, and died, 
protesting his innocence. 

Lord Camden was greatly blamed. " Remember Orr! — Remember 
Orr /" were words written every where — pronounced every where. I 
recollect, when a child, to have read them on the walls — to have heard 
them spoken by the people. Fortunately I did not comprehend their 
meaning. The conduct of the Irish executive was so reprobated, that at 
a public dinner in London, given in honour of Mr. Fox's birth-day, in 
one of the rooms where the Duke of Norfolk, Lord Oxford, Mr. Erskine, 
Sir Francis Burdett, and Home Tooke were, two of the toasts were 
— " The memory of Orr — basely m — d — d. May the execution of Orr 
provide places for the Cabinet of St. James's at the Castle /" 

In consequence of a publication on this subject, and signed Marcus, 
which appeared in the " Press," a newspaper set up by Arthur O'Con- 
nor, .Mr. Finnerty, the printer, was in December, 1797, convicted 
of a libel Mr. Curran, on that occasion, made one of his able and 
eloquent displays. His description of an informer, already mentioned, 
(page 160,) was unrivalled. I have heard that Mr. Fox admired it par- 


choly reflection, so much spilling of blood — guilty or innocent. 
I don't believe you will have peace. I have not seen the 
paper since the 14th. I send to-day to Limerick, and shall 
get them, — they come now regularly. 

Mrs. Grattan is very well, and has received great benefit 
from the waters. 

You will have, I believe, no peace. I read part of the 
pamphlet— it is no great thing — it labours and labours to 
make out a paradox. Yours ever, H. Grattan. 

ticularly. An extract of what he addressed to the jury is worthy of a 
place in any history. 

" Let me beg of you to suppose, that any one of you had been the 
writer of this very severe expostulation with the Viceroy, and that you 
had been the witness of the whole progress of this never-to-be-forgotten 
catastrophe. Let me suppose that you had known the charge upon 
which Mr. Orr was apprehended, the charge of abjuring that bigotry 
which had torn and disgraced his country, of pledging himself to restore 
the people of his country to their place in the constitution, and of bind- 
ing himself never to be the betrayer of his fellow-labourers in that enter- 
prise ; that you had seen him, upon that charge, removed from his in- 
dustry, and confined to a jail ; that through the slow and lingering pro- 
gress of twelve tedious months you had seen him confined in a dun- 
geon, shut out from the common use of air and of his own limbs ; that 
day after day you had marked the unhappy captive, cheered by no 
sound but the cries of his family, or the clinking of chains ; that you 
had seen him at last brought to his trial ; that you had seen the vile and 
perjured informer deposing against his life; that you had seen the 
drunken, and worn out, and terrified jury give in a verdict of death ; that 
you had seen the same jury, when their returning sobriety brought back 
their consciences, prostrate themselves before the humanity of the bench, 
and pray that the mercy of the crown might save their characters from 
the reproach of an involuntary crime, their consciences from the torture 
of eternal self-condemnation, and their souls from the indelible stain of 
innocent blood. Let me suppose that you had seen the respite given, 
and that contrite and honest recommendation transmitted to that seat 
where mercy was presumed to dwell ; that new and before unheard-of 
crimes are discovered against the informer ; that the royal mercy seems to 
relent, and that a new respite is sent to the prisoner; that time is taken, 
as the learned counsel for the crown expressed it, to see whether mercy 
could be extended or not; that after the period of lingering deliberation 
had passed, a third respite is transmitted ; that the unhappy captive 
himself feels the cheering hope of being restored to a family that he has 
adored, to a character that he had never stained, and to a country that 
he had ever loved; that you had seen his wife and children upon their 
knees, giving those tears to gratitude, which their locked and frozen 
hearts could not give to anguish and despair, and imploring the bless- 
ings of Eternal Providence upon his head who had graciously spared the 
father, and restored him to his children ; that you have seen the olive- 
branch sent into his little ark — but no sign that the waters had sub- 
sided. "Alas ! nor wife, nor children more shall he behold, nor friends 
nor sacred home V No seraph in mercy unbars his dungeon, and leads 





Limerick, 27 th Sept. 1737. 
Dear M'Can, — I wrote, by a private hand, a letter 
which I suppose you got on Sunday or Monday — it men- 
tioned that I got your draft. I told you there would be no 
peace. How do we stand as to revenue? Is there to be a 
meeting of Parliament? I tremble at the state of things — 
here, however, I find quiet and health — the State cannot 
say so much. The waters have done me so much good, 
and xMrs. Grattan also, that I shall stay for ten days longer, 
perhaps a fortnight. 

him forth to light and life — but the minister of death hurries him to the 
scene of suffering and shame — where, unmoved by the hostile array of 
artillery and armed men collected together, to secure or to insult, or to 
disturb him, he dies with a solemn declaration of his innocence, and 
utters his test breath in a prayer for the liberty of his country. Let me 
now ask you, if any of you had addressed the public ear upon so foul 
and mon>trous a subject, in what language would you have conveyed' 
the feelings of horror and indignation ! Would you have stooped to 
the meanness of qualified complaint? Would you have been mean 

enough but I entreat your forgiveness; I do not think meanly of 

you; had I thought so meanly of you, I would not suffer my mind to 
commune with you as it has done ; had I thought you that base and vile 
instrument, attuned by hope and by fear, into discord and falsehood, 
whose vulgar string no groan of suffering could vibrate, no voice of in- 
tegrity or honour could speak, — let me honestly tell you, I should have 
scorned to fling my hand across it ; I should have left it to a fitter 
minstrel. ***** 

"Gentlemen of the Jury, — If you think that the man who ventures at 
the hazard of his own life, to rescue from the deep the drowned honour 
of his country, must not presume upon the guilty familiarity of plucking 
it up by the locks, I have no more to say. Do a courteous thing. 
Upright and honest jurors ! find a civil and obliging verdict ag.iinst the 
printer! and when you have done so, march through the ranks of your 
fellow-citizens to your own homes, and bear their looks as you pass 
along ! Retire to the bosom of your families and your children, and 
when you are presiding over the morality of the parental board, tell those 
infants, who are to be the future men of Ireland, the history of this day. 
Form their young minds by your precepts, and confirm those precepts 
by your own example ; teach them how discreetly allegiance may be 
perjured on the table, or loyalty be forworn in the jury-box ; and when 
you have dune so, tell them the story of Orr — tell them of his captivity, of 
his children, of his crime, of his hopes, of his disappointments, of his 
courage, and of his death: and when you find your little hearers hang- 
ing from your lips, when you see their eyes overflow with sympathy and 
sorrow, and their young hearts bursting with the pangs of anticipated 
orphanage, tell them that you had the boldness and the justice to stig- 
matize the monster who had dared to publish the transaction ! ! !" 




If you happen to see Mr. Peter Burrowes,* mention me 
to him in the warmest manner — I have a very high opinion 
of him. 

I got the books, and I thank you. Is it possible that 
Sheridan could have written the strange attack on me ? — 
Alas I — I speak from what I hear, for I never read these 
attacks — that would be endless labour — I find that I know 
men but little. Yours ever, H. Grattan. 


Castleconnell, Oct. 3, 1797. 
Dear M'Can, — I shall see you in the course of a fort- 
night. You see stocks look down — rely on it they will be 
lower — we shall be eaten up with armies. The conduct of 
Government regarding Ireland, depend on it, gives con- 
fidence to France, and is an additional obstacle to peace. 
How is Curran ? I am much better. War — war — you 
see war, and this country made the theatre of it. There 
was a moment when all this could have been prevented. I 
am sorry our quondam friend Charlesf has acted by you so 
pitifully. I should never have thought it ; but I don't 
know men. God bless you! — Yours, H. Grattan. 


Castleconnell, October 11, 1797. 
My dear M'Can, — I got a letter this moment from 
one of our children — that the Orange boys have got up in 
our country near us.J Probably 'tis a vague report ; but 

* One of Mr. Grattan's warmest and most attached friends. He sat 
in Parliament at the Union, and gave that measure every opposition. 
His speech at the bar in 1812, on the trial of the Catholic Delegates, in 
answer to the Attorney-general (Mr. Saurin), was a masterpiece of legal 
ability. Sir Arthur Piggott, (the English Attorney-general of 1806,) a 
great authority, assured me that it was unanswered and unanswerable. 
He expired in London, at a very advanced age, (upwards of 90,) 
in 1841. 

f Charles Sheridan : — this regards some private transactions. 

X The Roman Catholics were apprehensive of being attacked by the 
Orangemen, and they assembled in great numbers between Bray and 
Arklow, to defend themselves. The yeomanry were, for the most part, 
an exclusive corps, which widened the breach between the parties ; and 
in addition the houses burned were chiefly those of the Catholics. The 
circumstance here referred to I cannot now forget. The Serjeant of the 
Powerscourt Yeomanry was clerk of the parish, and schoolmaster. He 
used to teach me to write ; and coming one morning rather late, he made 
an apology to the French tutor (Mativet), saying, he had been out most 
of the night with his corps, and that they had burned a man's house not 


if true, I wish the children were sent to Mrs. Berming- 
ham's* till our return. Be so good as to enquire from 
Mr. Mativetf about this report as soon as you receive this 
letter. 1 shall leave Castleconnell on Saturday, and go to 
Sir John Tydd's for three days; so stop my letters and 
paper, and direct to me, under cover, to him. — Yours, 

Henry Grattax. 


26th October, 1797. 

To my dear Berwick, health and happiness! — I 
will go to see you when Mrs. G. will permit; but I will 
certainly go. I wish you joy — am happy at the safety of 
your lady, Madam Anne. I hope the boy J will not be 
seized by an active magistrate, as a United Irishman. 
The magistracy have done as extraordinary things. 

I will go to Lord Pery,§ when I go to you. Your letter 
I got yesterday ; it went to Tinnehinch — I was not there ; 
it went to Clare — I was not there ; — a gentleman found 

far from Tinnehinch. They approached it in the dead of the night. 
One of the party discharged his musket in the thatch, and set the house 
on fire. I persuaded the tutor to bring me to the place ; and never 
shall I forget the dismal scene, or free my mind from the melancholy 
impression ! I almost think I behold the smoking ruins, and the burned 
walls, — the little furniture partly consumed — w holly destroyed. Terror 
seemed to reign around. The few who dared to look, feared to speak ; 
it was a scene of woe and desolation — "a death-like silence, and a dread 
repose" The poor peasant had fled — he and his family were driven 
amidst the flames upon the wide world — naked — penniless ; his property 
destroyed — his character blasted — an outcast — an outlaw — branded as a 
traitor — and J or no earthly reason n hat ever ; but some one chose to suspect 
him — that sufficed. At this period no insurrection had broken out ; but acts 
such as these were the cause of it : and when men affect to be surprised 
that the Irish should have revolted, the only wonder is, that when such 
tyranny and cruelty forced them to draw their swords, they had not 
courage to sheath them in the heart of the Minister ! 

Holt (a Protestant, in the county of \\ icklow), was similarly treated. 
His house was burned by a gentleman whose family is well-known ; 
and he assigns this as a reason for his taking up arms. He kept the county 
in a state of disturbance for a considerable period. — Memoirs of Holt. 

* His sister-in-law, then widow of his early friend Bermingham. She 
resided at the Blackrock, eight miles from Tinnehinch. 

f The French tutor, whose escape from being hanged by the ancient 
Britons will be mentioned hereafter. 

| Her son Walter Berwick, now assistant barrister for the county of 
Waterford, and one of her majesty's counsel-at-law. 

§ He resided at St. Edmondsbury, on the banks of the River Liffey, 
near Mr. Berwick's. 

Y 2 



it on the road, in its travels, wrapped it in a frank, and I 
received it yesterday unopened and unviolated. 

What do you think of the state of things? Pitt is more 
likely to depose the King of England, than restore the 
King of France. 

I am sorry about poor Sheridan ; # he was a pleasant 
wrangler, and has made a fool of himself by being too 
sad a courtier. He speaks of the people like Fitzgibbon ; 
but little Fitz has an excuse, he has a snap by nature, and 
is a vinegar-merchant by profession, who throws his aigre 
flasks at the people. The other seemed to laugh at all 
that, and aspired to something higher. 

I am sorry for his health ; I am sorry for his reputation. 

Yours ever, H. Grattan. 

* He had written a pamphlet, in which he attacked Mr. Grattan, 



Lord Moira's motion in the British Parliament in favour of Ireland 
(Nov. 1797) — His statement of the cruelties towards the Irish people 
— Similar motion in the Irish parliament (February, 1798) — Lord 
Carhampton retires from the command of the troops in Ireland — His 
character — His conduct towards the Rev. Mr. Berwick — Humane 
disposition of the latter towards the peasantry — Cruelties practised on 
them — System of spies and informers decried by Lord Moira — Their 
confessions — Liberation of Neilson in consequence — The Press news- 
paper destroyed by the military — Curran's description of the informers 
— Parliament meets — Complaints of the conduct of the military — 
Sir Lawrence Parsons' motion for conciliation — Mr. (Lord) Plunket's 
speech — Sir Lawrence Parsons forced to resign the command of the 
militia — His letter to Lord Camden — • Mr. Grattan's reasons for 
seceding from Parliament — His remarks on the Government, and 
their conduct towards the people — Knowledge by the Government of 
the proceedings of the United Irishmen — Lord Clonrnell's statements 
thereon — His singular remark — Arrest of the Leinster delegates, the 
' 12th of March — Proclamation of rebellion — History of the United 
Irishmen — Views, objects, and errors — The Emmett family — Anec- 
dote of Dr. Emmett — Mr. Grattan's remarks — Characters of Temple, 
Thomas Addis, and Robert Emmett — Mr. Peter Burrowes' and Mr. 
Grattan's remarks ou them — T. A. Emmett's letter from America to 
Mr. Peter Burrowes — Character of Lord Edward Fitzgerald — A. 
O'Connor, Jackson, the Sheares, and Nelson — Curran's visit to the 
latter in prison. 

On the 22nd of November, 1797, Lord Moira, with 
that feeling of humanity which, in the senate as 
in the field, always marked his character, and of 
which an instance has been mentioned already, 
brought forward the case of Ireland in the British 
Parliament, and called upon Ministers to change 
their system, and adopt measures of conciliation. 
He was replied to by Lord Grenville, who denied 
that the cases of inhumanity were as great as had 
been represented, and again pleaded the inde- 
pendence of the Irish Parliament as a bar to any 



[chap. X. 

interference on the part of England — that inde- 
pendence which in two years afterwards, in so 
flagitious a manner, he proposed to abolish ! 
Nothing was done on the subject, and the ques- 
tion of adjournment was carried without a divi- 

Lord Moira, in observing on the state of Ireland, said, the 
first thing that struck him was the light in which it was 
now customary for the military to view an Irishman. The 
foreign troops that were sent to Ireland, went thither under 
an unfortunate prejudice which care had been taken to 
instil into them, that every man they met there was a rebel. 
Every species of insult, of menace, and oppression, was 
exercised upon this supposition. There was one circum- 
stance which would give some idea of the insult to which 
every man was liable. He recollected, when he had read 
the history of this country, of the curfew, he had been ac- 
customed to consider it as a degrading badge of servitude. 
This custom, however, was now established in Ireland in 
all its rigour. At nine o'clock every man was called 
upon to extinguish his candle and his fire, and the mili- 
tary enforced the regulation with the most insulting ex- 
pressions. The hardship of this regulation was frequently 
felt in the most cruel manner. An instance had occurred 
within his knowledge, in which a party of soldiers had 
come to the house of a man by the road side; they insisted 
that he should extinguish his candle; the man entreated 
that he might be permitted to retain his light, because he 
was watching by the bedside of his child, which was sub- 
ject to convulsion fits, and might every moment require 
assistance. The party, however, rigorously insisted that 
the light should be extinguished. It had been in former 
times the custom for the people of this country, and of 
their Lordships, to hold in detestation the infamous pro- 
ceedings of the inquisition : one of the greatest horrors 
with which it was attended was, that the person on whom it 
seized was torn from his family, immured in prison, ignorant 
of the crime laid to his charge, and of his accuser, in the 
most cruel uncertainty as to the period of his confinement, 
and of the fate that awaited him. Yet to this injustice, so 
justly abhorred in the practice of the inquisition, were the 
people of Ireland exposed ; a man was torn from his family, 
and exposed to the horrors of imprisonment, without know- 



ins; the crime of which he was accused, or being confronted 
with his accuser. Such proceedings were not solitary in- 
stances — they were frequent ; and the man who saw his 
neighbour hurried from his home, could not say but to- 
morrow he might experience the same fate ; all confidence, 
all security, were taken away. In alluding to the inquisi- 
tion, he had omitted to mention one of its characteristic fea- 
tures : if the supposed culprit refused to acknowledge the 
crime with which he was charged, he was put to the rack, 
in order to extort a confession of the supposed guilt. In 
the same manner the proceedings of the inquisition had 
been introduced in Ireland; when a man was taken up, 
and was suspected of being guilty himself, or of concealing 
the guilt of others, he was put to the torture ; the rack, in- 
deed, was not applied, because, perhaps, it was not at 
hand ; but torture of another species was employed. He 
had known, in repeated instances, men taken up on sus- 
picion, subjected to the punishment of picqueting, a punishment 
noio abolished in the cavalry as too severe, lie had known a 
man, in order to extort conf ession of a supposed guilt, or of the 
guilt of someoj'his neighfjours,picqueted till he actually fainted! 
fricqueted again till he fainted I picqueted a third time till he 
fainted! upon mere suspicion! Nor was this the only 
species of torture : men had been taken and hung up till 
they were half hanged * and then threatened with the repe- 
tition of this cruel torture unless they made confession of 
the imputed guilt! Such proceedings were not merely 
particular acts of cruelty exercised by men abusing the 
power committed to them, but they formed a part of the 
system acted upon: they were notorious; — and no man 
could say but that he might be the next victim of the op- 
pression and the cruelty which he saw others endure. 
This, however, was not all. Their Lordships, no doubt, 
would recollect the famous proclamation issued by a mili- 
tary commander in Ireland, requiring the people to give up 
their arms. It never was denied that this proclamation 
was illegal, though it might have been defended on some 
supposed necessity ; this necessity, however, had never 
been established to his satisfaction. If, therefore, any re- 
luctance was shown to comply with this demand, he con- 
fessed it was not matter of surprise to him. Men who con- 
ceived that the Constitution gave them a right to keep 

* The case of a man of the name of Shaw. Lord Moira asserted it 
had been tried on this man more than once. 

328 ld. moira's statement of cruelties: [ch. x. 

arms in their houses for their own defence, might feel some 
indignation when called upon to give up this right. In 
the execution of the order, however, the greatest cruelties 
had been committed. If it was barely suspected that a per- 
son had not given up all the arms which he had, his house 
was burnt, arid his furniture, and every other property it con- 
tained, committed to the flames. But a particular suspicion 
sometimes was not thought necessary — if it was thought 
that any district had not given up all the arms it contained, 
a party was sent out to collect the number at which it was 
rated ; and in the execution of this order, thirty houses were 
sometimes burnt down in a single night. Thus, an officer 
took upon him to decide the quantity of arms which were 
contained in a particular district; and upon the judgment 
thus formed, the consequences which he had described fol- 
lowed. These facts he could bring evidence to their Lordships 
to prove. Many cases of a similar nature he might enume- 
rate, if it were necessary to show the nature of the system 
pursued. Many of the facts it was impossible that he could 
have seen, but many of them had come within his know- 
ledge. He wished for nothing more sincerely than to be 
examined upon oath as to the state of Ireland, and to the 
facts which he had brought forward. He had stated them 
before God and his country, and was ready to strengthen 
them by any species of assertion by which they might be 
confirmed. These facts were notorious in Ireland ; but they 
could not be made public through the newspapers, from a 
fear of attracting that summary method of punishment which 
had been practised in the case of the Northern Star, when a 
party of troops, in open day, where a general's head-quarters 
were, had destroijed the whole of the offices and property be- 
longing to that paper. For this reason, the publisher of a 
newspaper often refused to publish authenticated accounts 
of such enormities, from a dread of experiencing a similar 
fate. It was not the legal course of proceeding which they 
feared — but an arbitrary interference of a military force, 
without the forms of justice or of law. Instead of removing 
the discontents which it attempted to suppress, it had in- 
creased the number of the discontented. The number of 
United Irishmen, from the latest information, was extending 
in every part of the country. He had been informed, and 
he firmly believed the information to be correct, that their 
numbers were now three times greater than before the 
Ileport of the Secret Committee. Such, then, had been 


the consequence of the system of severity. He believed 
that the moment of conciliation was not past; but if the 
present system was not changed, he was convinced, " that 
Ireland would not remain connected with this country Jive 
years longer" A change of system was the only chance 

Not satisfied with his exertions in England, 
Lord Moira determined to renew them in Ireland, 
to which he was prompted not merely by a sense 
of duty, but by the taunts, almost the challenge, 
thrown out by Lord Clare, who, after the motion 
in the British House of Lords, had called on him, 
in a tone of defiance and arrogance, to make good 
his charges if he could in the Irish Parliament, 
where he would be met and answered. Ac- 
cordingly, in the month of February, 1798, Lord 
Moira appeared in the Irish House of Lords, 
and reiterated his opinions and statements, said 
they were perfectly correct, and after a very able 
speech, and remonstrance with Government on 
their conduct, he added : — 

u The time, my Lords, is not yet lost for recovering the 
affections of your countrymen. Can you hope that you 
can restore Ireland to peace by those acts of cruelty and 
oppression ? Conciliation may be deferred ; but every 
day that it is deferred increases the difficulty of suppress- 
ing the views of the discontented, and allaying the evils of 
insurrection and revolt." 

He also stated : — 

*' That since his arrival in Ireland he had read the con- 
fession of the informers employed by Government; — 
confessions which were sufficient to shock every feeling of 
humanity, and sicken and disgust every feeling of the 
soul. These confessions were demonstrative of the false 
and aggravated statements which Government was in the 
habit of receiving. I shudder to think that such wretches 
could find employment or protection under any Government. 
Were not these things enough to urge administration to 
abandon its system, and by an immediate relinquishment 
of this intolerable severity, to exhibit contrition at its even 
having been introduced into this country." 


He moved an address to the Lord-Lieutenant to 
recommend the adoption of such conciliatory 
measures as might allay the apprehensions and 
extinguish the discontents unhappily prevalent in 
this country. Lord Clare replied, and, as usual, 
gave the history of the country in an illiberal and 
highly coloured party-spirit. He detailed at length 
great atrocities committed by the people; as to the 
burning of houses by the military, he said it could 
not be strictly justified, but some examples were 
necessary to be made. As to the half-hanging a 
man of the name of Shaw, he denied that anything 
more was done than tying the rope about his neck to 
induce him to confess ! He then assailed the 
Bishop of Down, (Dickson,) stated that he had 
called on the High Sheriff of his county to con- 
vene a mob of insurgents, and when refused, that 
he went about hunting for signatures, and affixed 
his name, with that of a lame beggar, in a petition 
to the King. The Bishop, however, was not ter- 
rified by the tone or manner of the Chancellor, 
and answered him with spirit and dignity, and 
with complete success* — declared that for his dis- 
approbation or praise he entertained the most 
perfect indifference ; and as to the statement of 
the petition, his information was unfounded. Lord 
Dunsany very efficiently supported Lord Moira ; 
but the numbers werej" — 9 to 44 against the 

In November, 1797, Lord Carbarn pton resigned 
the command of the army in Ireland — too late, 
unfortunately, for the peace of the country. By 
some, his resignation was ascribed to a desire on 

* Lord Charlemont, in his letter to Dr. Haliday, says his reply was 
excellent, and Lord Clare's attack most unjustifiable. — Hardy's Memoirs, 
vol. ii. 

f Those who voted with Lord Moira were — Charlemont, Bellamont, 
Arran, Kilkenny, Granard, Dunsany, Belvedere, Cloncurry, Mount 
Cashell, and the Bishop of Down (Dickson). 


the part of Government for lenient measures, par- 
ticularly as he was succeeded by Sir Ralph 
Abercromby ; — by others it was attributed to 
timidity on his part, as a conspiracy had been 
entered into to kill him ; for this, however, he pro- 
secuted and convicted two individuals — one of 
them his own workman, who was executed. He 
was a clever man, but wholly devoid of principle; 
he was neither a statesman nor a warrior, though 
he pretended to be both. He got himself into 
unseemly difficulties* by his arrogance, and did 
not get out of them by his courage : the wicked 
instrument, — rather the tool of Government, — he 
swept away the people wherever he found them ; 
and in every possible manner levelled all ranks 
and degrees before him — both judge and jury, 
and set Ireland and her Constitution at defiance. 
He imprisoned, he condemned, he transported, 
without trial, without judge, without jury, with- 
out law, and without authority. He did those 
acts, for which, in any other country but Ireland, 
he would have lost his head ; and the justest de- 
scription that can be given of his progress through 
the provinces of Ireland, is that which Sheridan 
gave of the march of Hastings in India, from Oude 
to Benares : — " Terror was in his front — rebellion 
in his rear; for wherever the heel of oppression was 
raised, trodden inisery sprang up, and looked around 
for vengeance r 

* When Isaac Corry was in opposition, he had given notice of a 
motion respecting some public grievance, which in consequence of his 
complaints was remedied, and he came to the House to get the notice 
discharged. Carhampton condoled with him on the loss of his grievance, 
and related an anecdote of the devil, who was reported to be dead, and 
this occasioned much grief to persons who were interested in his exist- 
ence. Corry observed that he could not doubt the intelligence of the 
honourable member from the other world, as he had extensive dealings 
in that quarter, and much better knowledge of it than himself! 

See his conduct to Colonel Napier, in Moore's Life of Lord Edward 
Fitzgerald, vol. ii p. 199. 

332 lord carhampton's conduct to [chap. X. 

Under him the army were permitted to burn 
the houses,* to shoot the peasants, and exercise 
such license, that the troops became quite demo- 
ralised ; so that the gallant Abercromby (his 
successor), was forced, in general orders, to de- 
clare, " that they were formidable to every one but 
the enemy"' The description that Tacitus has 
given of the troops of Vitellius, may be truly ap- 
plied here : Ceterum Italia gravius atque atrocius 
quam, bello aclfiictabatur, dispersi per municipia et 
colonias Vitelliani, spoliare,'\ rapere, vi et $tup>ris 
polluere, in omne fas nefasque avidi, aut venales, non 
sacro, non profano abstinebant. 

When Lord Carhampton's strong measures 
came into operation, and the people found him 
act in so arbitrary a manner, there was not, in a 
fortnight after, almost one shopkeeper in Dublin 
who was not regularly sworn, and had not taken 
the oath of the United Irishmen. He was in fact 
their agent and recruiting serjeant. 

His conduct to the Reverend Mr. Berwick will 
be best understood by detailing it as I had it 
from that individual. He was the clergyman of 
a parish not far from Luttrelstown, where Lord 
Carhampton resided ; and in 1797, two soldiers 
came to his house, and took prisoner a man in his 
service, to bring to the General. Mr. Berwick 
accompanied them. Lord Carhampton knew 
him, both by name and profession; but he was so 
insolent and haughty — his manner and voice so 
arrogant, that Mr. Berwick thought he would be 
well off if he got safe out of the house. " Well, 
sir, who are you ? — why do you protect this man ? 

* Speeches of Lord Moira, Lord Dunsany, Dr. Browne, Mr. Van- 
deleur, Sir L. Parsons. — See also Sampson's Memoirs, American edit. 

t In the case of ifevey against Sirr. — See the inimitable description 
by Curran of Major Sandys and Major Sirr — their robbery of a horse 
and a silver cup, and their forging a return to a writ of Habeas Corpus. 
— Curran's Speeches, 253. 




Don't you know that he is a rebel ?" Mr. Ber- 
wick replied, he did not ; that he had only just 
come from Longford, and before he went, had 
known the man to have been a very well-con- 
ducted person. "Sir, you must have known it ! 
Where do you live ?" u At Esker," Mr. Berwick 
replied. " Oh! no honest man would live there! 
Why do you harbour rogues and rebels in your 
place ?" Mr. Berwick said, his profession and 
station, as chaplain to Lord Moira, should have 
sufficed, as he thought, to protect him from such 
an imputation. " Well, sir," replied Carhamp- 
ton, " you may go !" Berwick now became a 
marked man ; and to annoy and vex him, a piece 
of cannon was planted in the churchyard, opposite 
the house, in order to batter down an old building 
that was covered with ivy, and that formed a 
pretty object from the windows ; and Mr. Ber- 
wick was obliged to get an order from Dublin 
Castle to prevent it. In the little village of Esker, 
several men had been half-hanged and flogged, 
and pitch-caps put on their heads. A smith who 
lived there, had been half-hanged three times in 
one week. They applied to the clergyman for 
relief and medicine, and this humane individual 
supplied them as well as he could: one escaped into 
his haggard; two had been wounded at his gate; 
and by food and medicine he saved one of them. 
These acts of a Christian and a pastor, displeased 
those in authority. The triangles were affixed up 
close to his gate ; and on Sunday, at his return 
from prayers, he saw a crowd in the churchyard ; 
he got in, and beheld two men tied to a car, and 
some English soldiers flogging them. Berwick 
expostulated with the officer, who replied, " Sir, 
hold your tongue. We don't want to be taught 
our duty by you. Flog on !" One of them, an 
old man, asked Berwick to get him a glass of 



[chap. X. 

water. Berwick told the officer that he was a 
clergyman — that the parish was his — that this act 
was horrid, within view even of his windows ; and 
he begged to be allowed to get some water for 
the old man. The officer exclaimed, " No water! 
— go on !" and Berwick was obliged to retire. 
On another occasion, he found a man shot, and 
lying on the road near his house. Berwick went 
with the apothecary and a yeoman to assist him ; 
when a Scotch officer came up, and desired them 
to let the man alone, — that he should die where 
he lay. Berwick replied, that the doctor stated 
the man could not live ; that he was shot through 
the lungs, and he wished to bring him home. 
" No, sir; if you do, I shall make you answerable, 
unless I find the man here again. Mind, you 
shall be accountable for him." This worthy, 
charitable man, however, took him home, but the 
poor creature died. 

Lord Carhampton, when informed of this good 
man's conduct, sent for him, and told him, he heard 
that he was interfering with what was going on ; 
that it was shameful of him ! — and that if he per- 
severed in it he would send him in four days on 
board the tender!! Mr. Berwick now showed a 
proper spirit ; told him his mind on the occasion, 
and bid him defiance. This produced some effect 
on Carhampton, and Berwick was no longer 
molested ! Such was the Reverend Mr. Ber- 
wick's statement. 

Humane and virtuous man, — alas ! your spirit 
too has fled ; but blessings, not curses, followed 
you to the grave ! Your name has not been stained 
by crimes that must have seared even the con- 
science of your country's oppressors. Your acts 
were those of charity and of mercy — they were 
acceptable in the sight of Heaven, and cried not 
to God for vengeance ! How often have I been 




charmed by your converse — enlivened by your 
playful humour — edified and improved by your 
elevated and generous sentiments ! Neither the 
tyrant of the poor, nor the sycophant of the great ; 

"Dextrous the craving fawning crowd to quit, 
And pleased to escape from flattery to wit." 

When I recollect that your tears fell over the 
fleeting moments of Ireland's dying patriot,* 
how must you not have felt when you beheld the 
ghastly wounds of your tortured countrymen ! 
But though, in this life, your virtue was its sole 
reward, ere now you have received the deserved 
recompense for your charitable and pious offices — 
the blessing that awaits the just and the good — 

"Where they alike in trembling hope repose, 
The bosom of their Father and their God." 

The system of spies and informers')' which, in 
the worst times of the Roman empire disgraced 
and destroyed that people, was adopted in Ire- 
land with all its horrors, and discovered a new 
and frightful picture in the catalogue of her cala- 
mities. The Irish minister, accustomed to bri- 
bery within the doors of Parliament, now tried it 
from without; and accordingly, the vilest set of 
beings were kept, fed, and paid at the public ex- 
pense ; and very quickly, and very easily they 
prepared themselves to swear against the lives 
of their fellow-creatures. They assumed various 
names and dresses. Common servants were 
passed off as gentlemen informers ; J bankrupts, 
and culprits as gentlemen and officers ; and though 
on several occasions their perjuries were proved, 

* lie was with Mr. Grattan in his last illness, and expired the day 
after Mr. Grattan died, 5 June, 1820. 

f The list Lord Moira produced was as follows : Bird, alias Smith, 
alias Johnson ; Dutton, O'Brien, Clarke, Feris, Newell, M'Can, Collier, 
Cusack, Burke, M'Dermott, Maguire, Lynch, JVTGauley. 

J Dutton was one, Cooper another, Hughes a third. 


yet they still were continued in the employ of 
Government, and were generally known by the 
appellation of " The Battalion of Testimony.'" 
Among these there happened to be an English- 
man of the name of Bird, who passed likewise 
under those of Smith, and Johnson, In conse- 
quence of his information, Samuel Neilson, and 
Russell had been arrested, and detained in prison 
for eighteen months, without any charge proved 
against them, or any trial permitted. Kennedy, 
Shanahan, and others, had also been apprehend- 
ed on his statement, by Lords Downshire, West- 
meath, and Londonderry, aided by an attorney* 
of the name of Pollock, accompanied with a re- 
tinue of troops and magistrates, and a parade that 
terrified the neighbourhood of the north. These 
men had remained in gaol for seventeen months ; 
and when their trialf approached, Bird's con- 
science smote him, — he left his blood-stained 
trade — fled from the protection and pay of Go- 
vernment, " aver sus que fugit foe da ministerial 
Stung with remorse, he revealed his crimes, and 
their conduct. He published a letter which he had 
received from the Castle, addressed to him under 
the name of Johnson, sending him money, — say- 
ing where he was to find lodgings in Dublin, for 
which Mr. Cooke (the Secretary) was to pay four 
guineas a-week ; and in his letter to Cooke, ac- 
counting for his absence from the trial, he says : 

" Insurmountable obstacles presented themselves to 
prevent the completion of the unfortunate business, which 
necessity, imperious necessity, urged me to begin; but when I 
seriously reflected on the dreadful phalanx of perjured mon- 
sters, wallowing in riot and debauchery, ready at a nod to 
sacrifice any man however innocent, who might be obnoxious, I 
trembled, — I could not support the idea of having my 

* See Rev. Steele Dickson's narrative, and his account of this person 
and of the informer Hughes. 

f Ponsonby, Curran, Emmett, and Sampson were their counsel. 



name enrolled in the annals of eternal infamy with theirs, 
and their well adapted Major (Sirr.) I absented myself 
purely for the motive above mentioned — neither applied to 
nor tempted by the hope of reward. I confess, my heart 
was never for a moment in your cause — a reference to my 
letters, though apparently madly loyal, will convince you of 
that. Should any of your myriads of spies discover me, I 
would be more unfortunate than in my first loss — my 
papers and manuscripts, curious and interesting, are in 
other hands than mine ! ! 

He then describes the informer Newell, also 
in the pay of Government, who went about in a 
mask pointing out the persons to be arrested. He 
next addressed a letter to Lord Camden, stating, 
that against Russell and Neilson there was no 
charge whatever that could be supported — that they 
were both in prison without even the shadow of a 
crime. He importuned Lord Camden for their 
release, and threatened to place the documents in 
Lord Moira's hands. All this he disclosed to 
Neilson, and begins : — 

u In what language can I address a gentleman I have so 
deeply injured. # # # Happiness has been a stranger 
to me since the fatal day when poverty and something worse 
urged me to accept the wages of infamy ; — how these men 
may feel, in whose hands I have been made an instrument 
of ruin, I cannot say. 

u The first gleam of happiness which for twelve months 
has visited my breast, has been since I have ceased to 
work among the number of those sanguinary monsters who 
are destroying the very system they are seeking to support. 
* * # If my utmost exertions to serve the men I teas 
hired to destroy can entitle me to pardon from you, I 
should once more feel myself restored to peace and happi- 

Newell, too, recoiled from the work in which 
he was employed, and wrote in the following repent- 
ant strain, to the Under-Secretary (Mr. Cooke) — 

" Though I cannot deny being a villain, I hope clearly 
to prove / had the honour of being made one by you. 
Though you did not circulate enough of your principles to 
make it lasting. * * * I have no occasion now for 



pistols — my bosom is what it has not been this long time, 
and I thank my God for having saved me from impending 
ruin. 11 % 

Bird's letter to Lord Camden led to Neilson's 
liberation from prison in February 1798, on 
condition that he should not thenceforth belong 
to any treasonable association ; but though it pro- 
cured the liberty of one man, it caused the incar- 
ceration of another. The letter appeared in the 
Press newspaper of the 20th of February ; and the 
House of Lords immediately summoned" Stock- 
dale, the printer, to their bar, for publishing in 
the paper of that day an attack on one of their 
body. They ordered him to be imprisoned for 
six months, and fined 500/. Some members 
wished it to be 1000/. ; but Lord Clare restrained 
their ardour — like Tiberius, when he moderated the 
servility of the Roman senate, — " quanto quis illus- 
trior, tanto magis falsi et festinantes." As that 
paper had also announced an intention to publish 
a letter attacking Lord Clare, a party of military 
entered the house of the printer, seized and car- 
ried off the impressions, and destroyed the presses 
and machinery. Two numbers were published 
notwithstanding, and were circulated with avidity : 
they will be found in the American edition, Num- 
ber 68; the letter, " To the Author of Coercion," 
which describes Lord Clare, is equal to any of the 
compositions of Junius. Moore, in his Life of 
Lord Edward Fitzgerald, mentions that he wrote in 
the Press. The paper was ably supported, but very 
violent, and very inflammatory. 

On Lord Moira's arrival in Ireland in the pre- 
ceding November, he was supplied with documents 
containing extraordinary and horrid disclosures* 

* An affidavit was made in the King's Bench, January, 1798, by a 
prisoner in the Castle of Dublin, praying the court to remove him 
from Birmingham Tower, in order to avoid the threats held out to make 
him become King's evidence. 

CHAP. X.] 



respecting the Government informers, by Bird, who 
offered to be examined as a witness before the 
House of Lords in support of his statements. The 
Rev. Mr. Berwick, I believe, together with Mr. 
Grattan, assisted in getting this intelligence. It 
filled thirty-two large pages, each signed by Bird, 
and countersigned by Mr. Grattan. Fromthe letters 
that passed between Lord Moira and Mr. Samp- 
son,* it appears that these documents passed to the 
hands of Mr. Sheridan ; but farther than that I have 
been unable to trace them. Bird was subsequently 
followed by Government, discovered, and impri- 
soned; he then wrote from gaol to apprise Mr- 
Grattan of the attempts made to etfect his destruc- 
tion: — this being discovered by the Government, Bird 
was loaded with irons, and sent oat of the kingdom. 
To the knowledge he obtained through this man, 
together with the suggestions from Lord Dufferin, 
which will be mentioned presently, may be attri- 
buted in a great degree Mr. Grattan's escape from 
the vengeance of his enemies. Botli these persons 
— the one of the highest honour, and the other of the 
basest habits — apprised him what he might ex- 
pect. Fortune, too, seemed to be on his side, 
and the summons to Maidstone probably saved 
his life. At a late period he mentioned to me the 
circumstance of receiving the letter from Bird ; 
but said he took no notice of it. The danger was 
past ; and his mind had no relish for revenge. 
Part of the intimation meant to be conveyed, 
I imagine, was, that Hughes, the spy of Go- 
vernment, who went to Tinnehinch with Neilson 
when the latter was released from gaol, had 
gone thither at the instance of those whom 
Bird calls Mr. Grattan's " venal persecutors,'' 1 
though perhaps not, as he says, " the most cele- 
brated '." 

* See Sampson's Memoirs. 

z 2 


Such were the persons employed by Govern- 
ment, and on whose testimony they relied. Well 
might Lord Moira exclaim against them with 
indignation ; for, in their hands, what life was 
safe ! — what character secure ! ! ! Curran, who 
knew them well, for at various trials he had 
cross-examined them, gives the following vivid 
description in his celebrated speech on Orr's 
death. He calls them — 

" Vampires who crawl out of their graves in search of 
human blood— a number of horrid miscreants who avowed 
upon their oaths that they had come from the very seat of 
Government — from the Castle, where they had been worked 
upon by the fear of death, and the hopes of compensation, 
to give evidence against their fellows; thus the mild and 
wholesome councils of this government are holden over these 
catacombs of living death, where the wretch that is buried a 
man, lies till his heart has time to fester and dissolve, and 
is then dug up a witness \" 

On the 16th January, 1798, Parliament had 
met ; but the opposition had seceded, and Pon- 
sonby, Grattan, Curran, Hardy, and Fletcher 
were away. It had lost its authority — it had 
tolerated torture, sanctioned military execution, 
and indemnified magisterial delinquency. Lord 
Camden, in his speech, stated that, in the north, 
subordination and tranquillity had in a great 
degree been restored ; but in the midland and 
southern parts of the country outrages prevailed, 
religious animosities were again excited, and 
plans of assassination concerted. The address 
was proposed and seconded by Lords Roden and 
Bective in the Lords, and by Lord Corry and 
Maurice Fitzgerald (Knight of Kerry) in the Com- 
mons. Doctor Arthur Browne, member for Dub- 
lin University, complained of the excesses of the 
military and yeomanry, and asked by what autho- 
rity, act of Parliament, or proclamation, the house 
of every person was burned who ivas not home at a 


particular hour at night ? — and why another rule 
was adopted, namely, that of taking up men 
supposed to be guilty of treasonable offences, but 
against whom there was no evidence, and shooting them 
in cold blood?* He alleged that he could produce 
numerous instances of such outrages by the mili- 
tary, but forbore to do so, as he did not wish to 
influence the public mind. He declined to agree 
to the address. 

Mr. Pelham (Secretary) said, " If some of the 
irregularities complained of had been committed, 
they were without the sanction or approbation 
of Government. He said the military had been 
moderate, and so had been the administration." 

On bringing up the report, Mr. Smith (after- 
wards Baron of the Exchequer) moved an amend- 
ment, praying his Majesty to adopt conciliatory 
measures. It was seconded by Lord Caulfield, 
son of the Earl of Charlemont ; but according to 
the rules of the House, it was too late to be re- 

On the 5th of March, Sir L. Parsons moved for a 
committee to inquire into the state of the country, 
and suggest such measures as were likely to conci- 
liate the popular mind and restore tranquillity. 
Lord Caulfield spoke well in support of the motion, 
as did Mr. (afterwards Lord) Plunket; it was also 
supported by Brown, Hoare, Martin, Tighe, New- 
enham, and Knox. Lord Castlereagh and a host of 
placemen opposed the motion, which was lost by 
a great majority — 156 to 19. 

The speech of Mr. Plunket caused great sen- 
sation. His remonstrance with Government on 
their proceedings was able and constitutional ; 
but it was in vain addressed to men who had 
before refused to listen to any lenient or concilia- 

* Mr. Vandeleur, in a debate soon after this, made a similar statement 
and complaint, but in vain. 



[chap. X. 

tory measures. Lord Charlemont, though weak, 
and ill both in mind and body, and scarcely able 
to attend to public business, expressed himself in 
terms of great admiration at Mr. Plunket's suc- 
cessful and spirited display.* In a letter to Dr. 
Haliday, he speaks of his son (Lord Caulfield) 
who had made his first appearance in Parliament, 
and says of him and Mr. Dobbs : — " My two 
friends have done excellently; — Plunket ex- 
ceeded all, and is already one of our best and 
most useful debaters." The following gives a very 
imperfect sketch of part of Mr. Plunket's speech, 
but shows how much he disapproved of the course 
pursued by the Government :f— 

" The rebellion of the mind, by which you are assaulted, 
is dreadful, and not to be combated by force. You have 
tried that remedy for three years, and the experiment has 
failed. You have stopped the mouth of the public by a 
Convention Bill — have committed the property and liberty 
of the people to the magistrate by Insurrection Acts — you 
have suspended the Habeas Corpus Act — you have had 
and you have used a strong military force — as great a force 
as you could call for — and there has been nothing that 
could tend to strengthen your hands or enable you to beat 
down this formidable conspiracy that you have not been 
invested with. What effect has your system produced? 
Discontent and sedition has grown threefold under your 

" Gentlemen had talked of French principles. These 
principles had grown indeed, but it was because they had 
not been resisted by proper means. I wonder not that, 
assisted by these principles, the rotten fabric of the French 

* Hardy's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 302. 

f Lord Charlemont's opinion of this remarkable and talented 
person was fully justified. He proved to be one of the ablest men 
that ever appeared either in the Senate or at the Bar, whether in the 
Irish House opposing the Union, and defending the Rights and the 
Constitution of his country, or in the Imperial Parliament advocating 
the claims of the Catholics, or in his profession, ascending the Bench, or 
assuming the seals, — he did what few men ever accomplished : he raised 
himself to the highest honours and offices in the State, and gained the 
greatest fame, by his abilities alone, and without a sacrifice of character 
or of principle. 

CHAP. X.] 



monarchy had tumbled into atoms ; nor do I wonder that 
they carried terror and destruction through the despotism 
of Europe ; but I had hoped that when the hollow spectre 
of French democracy approached the mild and chaste dig- 
nity of the British Constitution, it would have fled before 
it : it would have done so had you not destroyed the British 
Constitution before it reached us. You opposed it then 
with force, and its progress grew upon you. Restore the 
Constitution, and it will defend you against this monster. 
Reform your Parliament — cease to bestow upon the worth- 
less the wealth you extract from your people — let the prin- 
ciples of that revolution which you profess to admire, 
regulate your conduct; — the horrid shade will melt into 

Government still pursued the same course, and 
on the 3rd of March they brought in a bill to 
indemnify magistrates and persons* who had 
transgressed the law in their efforts to preserve 
the peace. They passed an Insurrection bill, 
— a bill to suspend the Habeas Corpus, — and 
a bill to regulate the freedom of the press, im- 
posing thereon additional penalties. This was 
ably, but in vain, opposed by Mr. Plunket — 
Doctor Duigenan attempted to stop the grant to 
the Roman Catholic College of Maynooth, and 
was successfully opposed by Mr. Bushe, and 
defeated by 62 to 12. Such were the Parliamen- 
tary proceedings. 

An instance of the malevolence of Government 
is recorded in the case of Sir L. Parsons. He 
had incurred their displeasure in consequence of 
his motion for conciliation,! and therefore was 

* Mr. Plunket proposed that compensation should be given to the 
honest injured men whose property was destroyed in consequence of 
such transgressions. Mr. Edgeworth and Mr. Dobbs contended for 
this principle, but government would not listen to them. Mr. Dodd's 
distillery and brewing works at Mutifarnham were burned and de- 
stroyed by the military in a most wanton manner, to the amount of 
many thousand pounds, and no compensation whatever was granted. 
Numbers of persons were similarly circumstanced. 

f His conduct on this occasion, and his humanity during these trying 
times, did not pass unheeded or unrewarded ; and when Mr. Parsons, at a 


to be immolated to their resentment. As the 
King had dismissed the Duke of Norfolk from the 
command of the Yorkshire militia for drinking the 
toast of " The Sovereignty of the People," Sir 
L. Parsons was to be cashiered for some reason 
equally just, or for what he terms, in his letter, 
(t a mistaken lenity!' Accordingly, objection was 
made to the mode of discipline in his regiment, 
and he was induced to resign.* 


Dublin, March, 1798. 
My Lord ; — I have the honour to inform your Excel- 
lency, that Major-General Lord Charles Fitzroy communi- 
cated to me yesterday a message which he had received 
through Lieut.-General Craig, from the Commander-in- 
Chief, representing that the discipline of my regiment was 
considerably relaxed since I took the command of it in 
this garrison, "through my mistaken lenity;" and that I 
should either change my conduct, — which, with my sense 
of the duties of such a station, I could not do, — or that I 
should give the power to the other field-officer, a conces- 
sion to which no Colonel could submit. Conscious that 
this accusation is perfectly unmerited by me and the men 
under my command, I shall not stoop to take any further 
notice of it than to say, that as my object, when I was 
originally prevailed on to accept of the regiment, was to 
serve my country, and since those in superior, authority 
have been persuaded that my commanding it has had the 
contrary effect, I shall not continue any longer in that 
situation ; I must, therefore, request that your Excellency 
will accept of my resignation. 

I am, &c. L. Parsons. 


Bublm Castle, 28th March, 1798. 
Sir ; — I had yesterday the honour to receive your letter, 

period long subsequent, set up to represent the King's county in the 
Imperial Parliament, although Lord Rosse and his brother were 
adverse to the Catholic claims, yet the individuals who supported him 
and procured him a number of votes, were Roman Catholics. So sen- 
sibly did the Irish feel acts of kindness and humanity, rarely shown to 
them during these sad disturbances. 

* Mr. Conolly resigned also the command of the Londonderry 


in which you inform me that you request me to accept 
your resignation of the King's County Regiment of Militia. 
I lament extremely that you have been induced to take 
this step in consequence of observations from the general 
officers upon some relaxation of discipline in that regi- 
ment, which, I am convinced, you would easily have cor- 
rected ; but since this is your determination, I cannot 
decline to accept that resignation you have transmitted 
to me. I have the honour to be, with perfect truth, 
Sir, your obedient humble Servant, 


It might be supposed that the leading members 
of the Opposition would have had some influence 
with Government, sufficient at least to induce them 
to interfere and restrain the military, and prevent 
their excesses. The cause of their absence from 
Parliament, therefore, requires to be examined. 
When Sir Jonah Barrington was writing the His- 
tory of the Irish Union, he applied tome, in 1817, 
to ascertain from Mr. Grattan the cause of the 
secession of his party from the Irish Parliament ; 
and in accordance with his wishes, Mr. Grattan 
gave the following account; which, though it goes 
beyond the period of the secession, is not the less 
interesting : — 

" The reason why we seceded was, that we did not ap- 
prove of the conduct of the United Men, and we could not 
approve of the conduct of the Government. We were 
afraid of encouraging the former by making speeches 
against the latter, and we thought it better in such a case, 
as we could support neither, to withdraw from both. 

u After the summer of 1795, and the return to power of 
the old men and the old system, coupled with the subse- 
quent measures of sending troops into the country, on the 
petitions to the King, and transporting the common people 
without trial, — after that, the quarrel between the Govern- 
ment and the people became irreconcileable, and it did not 
avail what Opposition did in Parliament one way or an- 
other — the Minister that day broke with the country — he 
answered its petitions by troops. The people in general 
looked to France, and the Government to arms: both were, 

346 mr. grattan's reasons for [chap. X. 

from the close of 1795, in a state of war — the people in re- 
bellion against the King, and the Minister against the Con- 
stitution. The success of the former, a French alliance or a 
French Government ; the success of the latter a tyranny 
with Parliament. And in case of an unsuccessful rebellion, 
the tyranny with Parliament would have soon ended, like 
the other, in a tyranny without one. In either case the 
people would have been completely put down ; for though 
the excesses of the United Men and their objects were 
indefensible and absurd, yet if vanquished by the ministry, 
there would have been no popular influence nor effect in 
Ireland, — it would have been the tyranny of Government, 
through an Irish Parliament, as it was before, through an 
English one. The object of the opposition was and should 
have been to prevent the victory of either party — so to 
have used the terror excited by the approaches of the 
French and of rebellion, as to have gotten for the country 
an improvement in the representation of the people, and 
an amelioration in the administration of her Government, 
and, under those circumstances, to have set rebellion at de- 
fiance : thus there would have been a victory of the Constitu- 
tion, and no other whatever. If the Opposition had sup- 
ported the violence of Government in its system of coer- 
cion, they would have had no effect in restraining the 
system of torture, no more than those who supported both 
had afterwards in opposing the Union. 

Our error was in not having seceded sooner; for the 
Opposition, I fear, encouraged the United Men by their 
speeches against the Government. The Government were 
so abominable — their measures were so violent that no 
man would sanction them. There was high treason cer- 
tainly, but these were measures that no high treason — that 
no crimes could warrant. Nothing could excuse the tor- 
ture — the whippings — the half-hanging — it was impossible 
to act with them j and in such cases it is always better 
that a neutral party should retire. We could do no good — 
we could not join the disaffected party, and we could not 
support the Government. We would not torture — we 
would not hold the lash — we would not flagellate. 

I had written a letter to the citizens of Dublin that was 
considered imprudent — it was true- — it was well written — 
but it tended to inflame. I had also written strongly to 
the Catholicks — I had just returned from England, and 
we smarted under the disappointment of Lord Fitzwilliam's 



recall. Pitt had behaved ill — he jockied Lord Fitzwilliam 
— he did not jockey me — he was playing tricks : he treated 
Lord Fitzwilliam very ill. I regret the proceedings — we 
were angry : it was not wise — but there is no man who in 
a long public life will not be guilty of some political errors. 
The Government behaved shockingly. There was treason, 
no doubt; — but treason was no excuse for their conduct — 
they punished the poor creatures that were deluded, and 
permitted to live, those who had deluded them. They did not 
treat the people as if they were Christians — they treated them 
not like rebel Christians, but like rebel dogs ; and afterwards, 
when these men who had thus acted came to be tried at 
the L T nion, they sold themselves and their country — it was 
infamous! The question men should have asked was not, 
' Why was Mr. Sheares upon the gallows?" but, 1 Why was 
not Lord Clare along with him?'" 

The Government attacked me. I knew they hated me. 
They attacked me with all the bitterness they possessed. 
They were malignant and rancorous — they had nothing 
against me — they forged something — they produced a 
report in which I was accused of having had an interview 
with Neilson — and so negligent and so rancorous were 
they in their attack, that they contradicted themselves on 
the face of it. They made me hold an interview with 
Neilson at the very time I was attending a trial at Maid- 
stone — that was notorious — and this they sent to the 
King. I told them I defied them ; — they said they had 
papers. I called on them to produce them — I bid them 
do all they could — I told them I would neither give nor 
receive quarter — I asked how could such men dare to 
question any man ? — they icho were criminals, and icho were 
in rebellion against the constitution of their country. It 
was not necessary for me to apologize for not having 
joined them ; — it might be necessary perhaps to offer 
some reason to posterity why I had not joined the rebels. 
I would do neither ; — the one was a rebel to his King — 
the other, to his country. In the conscientious sense of 
the word rebel, there should have been a gallows for the 
rebel, and there should have been a gallows for the minis- 
ters. These men were endeavouring for a long series of 
years to undo what had been done, and destroy that 
freedom which the country had obtained ; — they were, by 
corruption, restoring that power which had been aban- 
doned, and which had formerly been obtained by usurpa- 


tion. I defied them. My reply to Corry produced great 
effect ; — Berwick was there, and he can tell the effect it 
produced. These men could say nothing in defence of 
themselves. It might be necessary to say why we had 
not rebelled — a rebellion may be necessary — in some cases 
it ought to take place ; but no man would rebel with 
O'Connor. Men will make the distinction, and will say, 
"Why did they not join O'Connor?" The conduct of 
the Government will be detested. O'Connor may have 
been a man of honour — Clare could not. Men will be 
more blamed in history for having joined the Government, 
than they would if they had joined the rebels. 

Such was the statement of Mr. Grattan to Bar- 

By their spies and informers,* Government were 
apprised of the meetings of the United Irishmen, 
and could, if they thought proper, have prevented 
them; but they allowed them to go on, and thus 
fermented the Rebellion. They knew they had lost 
the affections of the people. They wanted the 
Union, just as Parsons and the Government in 
1640 wanted confiscations, and they were deter- 
mined on effecting, by these means, their favourite 
object. This appears from the facts related by 
Lord Clonmell, as stated in the Second Volume of 
these memoirs, p. 145, from which it is manifest 
that they could have crushed the conspiracy at 
the outset, and have prevented the insurrection. 
Lord Clonmell actually informed one of the conspi- 
rators, for whom he entertained some regard, that 
he knewwherehe had attended their meetings, and 
with whom, and advised him to leave the kingdom 
immediately, or that he would be apprehended, 
as Government knew all about him this person 
left Ireland that night, and thus Lord Clonmell pro- 
bably saved his life, as they sent to arrest him next 

* In addition to Lord Moira's list may be added the notorious 
Jemmy O'Brien (who was hanged at last) ; Hughes, the spy sent to 
Tinnehinch ; Reynolds, who gave the information as to Lord Edward 
Fitzgerald and the Leinster Delegates; and Armstrong, who betrayed 
the Sheares. 


day. The dying declarations of Lord Clonmell to his 
nephew, Dean Scott, (a relation of Mr. Grattan,*) 
the destruction of the letter which he thought exposed 
the duplicity of Government, and his remarks at that 
awful period, (his death,) "that they allowed 
the United men to go on, in order to carry 
the Union, and that such was their design," 
must remove all further doubt upon the subject. 
This attaches a heavy charge against the Irish 
ministers, and affixes to their memories a disgrace 
that is indelible. 

Lord Clonmell was at that time displeased with 
the Government, but in his convivial as in his con- 
fidential moments was communicative, and apt to 
tell truths. An instance may be mentioned in the 
advice he gave to Mr. Lawless (Lord Cloncurry) ; 
he said that he entertained a sincere regard 
for him ; that troublesome times were arising ; 
that his spirit would cause him to take a part in 
them, and that it would be a wise plan to get his 
father to send him away from Ireland: — " As to 
myself' added Lord Clonmell, " if I were to begin 
life again, I would rather be a chimney-sweeper than 
be connected with the Irish Government." These 
were his words. This was Lord Clonmell's opi- 
nion of the men who composed the ministry in 
Ireland, and whose conduct appeared to him so 
indefensible and dishonest. Let us now turn to 
their opponents, the United Irishmen. 

About the 22nd or 23rd of February, 1798, one 
of the United party, a person of the name of 
Reynolds, a silk mercer, disclosed to a Mr. Cope 
the proceedings of his associates ; and on the 
12th of March, in consequence of his informa- 
tion, -|" fourteen of the Leinster delegates, forming 

* He was married to Miss Bushe, a niece of Mr. Grattan's. 

f Cope, it was said, got 5,000/. and 1,500/. a-year pension. Reynolds 
bargained for 500/., the price of his information, but he so connected him- 
self with Lord Castlereagh, then appointed secretary, that he forced the 


the Provincial committee, were arrested at the 
house of Oliver Bond, a merchant in Dublin. 
Thomas Addis Emmett, Doctor M'Nevin, Oliver 
Bond, John Sweetman, a brewer, two Jacksons, 
ironmongers, and Richard M'Cormick, a trades- 
man, were also apprehended ; and warrants were 
issued against Wm. Sampson, a lawyer, and 
Lord Edward Fitzgerald. The latter escaped, 
and the former was some weeks afterwards 
taken at Whitehaven. The papers of the com- 
mittee* were brought to the Government, and 
these disclosed the extent of the conspiracy.! The 
Privy Council examined the prisoners, ordered 
the Castle to be put in a state of defence, aug- 
mented the military force in the city, and on the 
30th issued a proclamation, which stated — 

"That a traitorous conspiracy, existing within the king- 
dom, for the destruction of the established government, 
had been considerably extended, and had manifested itself 
in acts of open rebellion ; and that in consequence thereof 
the most direct and positive orders had been issued to the 
officers commanding his Majesty's forces to employ them 
with the utmost vigour and decision for the immediate 

latter to bring him forward in society. Under the Duke of Wellington, 
in the Peninsular war, he was made postmaster of Lisbon, and was also 
called on a grand jury of the county of Middlesex, which excited no 
inconsiderable indignation. 

* Their names were those of men in the middling rank of life, pos- 
sessed of little influence, and very little property ; quite insignificant, and 
incapable of raising or conducting a civil war, if it had not been for 
Mr. Pitt and Lord Clare. 

Peter Ivers, County of Carlow; Laurence Kelly, Queen's County; 
George Cummin, Kildare County ; Edward Hudson, Grafton Street j 
John Lynch, Marey's Abbey ; Lawrence Griffin, Carlow County ; Thomas 
Reynolds, Clomellon ; John M'Cann, Church Street; Patrick Devine, 
Dublin County; Thomas Tray nor, Poolbeg Street; Wm. Michael Byrne, 
Wicklow County ; Christopher Martin, Dunboyne ; Peter Bannon, 
Queen's County ; James Rose, Dublin County. 

The number of armed men in the province of Leinster only amounted 
up to the 20th of February, 1798, to 67,295, and their treasury but to 
1485/. 4s. 9d. 

In the County of Wicklow, 12,895 men; Carlow County, 9,414; 
Kildare County, 10,863; Queen's County, li,689; Meath County, 
14,000 ; Kilkenny County, 604. 

f The return made to the Irish Parliament, of the arms seized and 


suppression of this conspiracy, and for the disarming of 
the rebels, and all disaffected persons, by the most sum- 
mary and effectual measures. " 

It is worth while to examine the composition 
and character of the party who brought about the 
insurrection, and subsequently caused the Union. 
They were, in a great degree, democratic. They 
had given proofs of their existence as far back as 
1782, on the repeal of the Gth of Geo. I.,— 
in the election of a military convention in 1783, 
— in their proceedings towards a measure of 
reform in 17S4 ; in the formation of the United 
Irishmen in 1791 ; in the proceeding in 1793 with 
regard to the Catholics in the north, and in 
Dublin; — in their attacks on the opposition in 
1793, and on Mr. Grattan and the supporters of 
the war in 1794. The tendencies of this party were 
Republican, independent of, and uninfluenced 
by the higher orders, by the aristocracy, or by 
the Parliamentary opposition, the latter of whom 
they had repeatedly attacked,* and the former of 
whom they looked on with aversion, as purchased 
by the minister to betray the people. They were 
composed (with regard to their magnitude) of the 
most active of the old Volunteers. They con- 
ceived that they had procured the trade and con- 
stitution of their country in 1779 and 1782, and 
they expected great changes therefrom. They 

taken by the military under fifteen generals throughout Ireland, from 
March to August, 1798, shows how inefficient and ill arranged the 
preparations of the insurgents must have been ; they only amounted to 
48,109 guns; 1755 bayonets; 4,463 pistols; 4,183 swords; 70,630 
pikes; 248 blunderbusses; 22 ordnance; 119 musket barrels. Num- 
bers of these arms belonged to well affected persons, and to the gentry of 
the country, who were obliged to give them up to Government. Such 
was the case at Tinnehinch and its vicinity ; but they served to swell up 
the number, and so cast obloquy upon the people. 

* In his Life of Pitt, Gifford, as well as other writers, connects the 
United party with the members of the Opposition; but on examination, 
it will appear that they generally attacked them, never consulted them, 
and greatly mistrusted them. — See Tone's Memoirs. — Evidence before 
Secret Committee. — Pieces of Irish History, &c. 


expected, and had a right to expect, a change of 
persons arid system in the Government — they 
were mistaken. They had a right to expect a 
great improvement in the conduct of Parliament 
— they were disappointed. They expected an 
independent Parliament — they found a dependent 
one ; they found a corrupt one ; they found an 
incoherent one. Naturally and justly they grew 
discontented, and sought for reform ; and if they 
had discovered any ability, they would have 
succeeded ; had they remained quiet, and not 
circulated their imprudent addresses ; if they had 
waited, and not broken out into open war, they 
would have united all parties against Mr. Pitt ; for 
he had behaved very ill to Ireland — he nearly lost 
the country, and wholly lost her affections, and all 
without any justification whatever. He found 
the people united — he left them divided ; and he 
ran the risk of dismembering the empire, both 
from internal commotion, and foreign invasion. 
The Government had acted most violently ; they 
had suffered the military to act shamefully ; they 
kept up an army that was an instrument of power 
against the privileges of the people, but not of 
protection ; and when the French came, the army 
was found so bad, that one of its best generals, 
(Sir Ralph Abercromby) declared it to be in- 
capable ;* and if the French had landed 10,000 

* " General Orders. Dublin, 26 Feb. 1798. 

u The very disgraceful frequency of courts martial, and the many 
complaints of irregularities in the conduct of the troops in this kingdom, 
having too unfortunately proved the army to be in a state of licentiousness, 
which must render it formidable to every one but the enemy, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief thinks it necessary to demand from all Generals com- 
manding districts and brigades, as well as commanding officers of regi- 
ments, that they exert for themselves, and compel from all officers under 
their command, the strictest and most unremitting attention to the disci- 
pline, good order, and conduct of their men, — such as may restore the 
high and distinguished reputation the British troops have been accus- 
tomed to enjoy in every part of the world. It becomes necessary to 
recur, and most pointedly to attend to the standing orders of the king- 


men, they could have taken the country. But 
Mr. Pitt's violent measures were lost in the ne- 
cessity of the times, and in the excesses of the 
people, both of which screened and saved him ; 
for the authors of the insurrection could make 
out no case : the acts of the Government would 
have justified every thing but war. The creating 
of fifteen new places to buy the Parliament, there- 
by having a majority of thirty on a division, toge- 
ther with their violent acts in order to force on 
the Union; this and other corrupt measures, would 
have gone a great way to prove that the Govern- 
ment wanted to subvert the Constitution ; but 
there could not be any case at that time made out 
to prove the necessity of rebellion. In fact, it 
was not to procure Catholic emancipation, or Par- 
liamentary reform, though they were used as in- 
struments to increase their party, that in latter 
years the United Irish aimed at, but the subver- 
sion of all government except a democracy. 
The leaders felt few of the grievances they com- 
plained of: they were chiefly Protestants ;* and 
as to Catholic emancipation, they confessed it had 
partly been obtained ; a few discontented law- 
yers and doctors, who, when they saw France in 

dom, which at the same time that they direct military assistance to be 
given at the requisition of the civil magistrates, positively forbid the troops 
to act {but in case of attack) without his presence and authority, and the 
most clear and precise orders are to be given to the officer commanding 
the party for this purpose." 

* The leaders of the United Irish were in general adverse to the 
admission of the Catholics into their Union — Tone and Neilson in par- 
ticular. The latter was well known to have said to a Dublin merchant 
who was a Protestant,, and in extensive dealings with all classes — 
* The worst of the business is, that we must get these Catholics to join us." 
Tone also said to another individual, " As to the Catholics, they have 
been driven into the rebellion.* 1 From the statement already made, it 
will be observed that in 1797, the number of United men in Protestant 
Ulster amounted to near 100,000 men, while in 1798, in the larger and 
more Catholic Province (that of Leinster), they only amounted to 
67,?.95. It however served the party to represent it as a " Popish 
Rebellion," as Sir Richard Musgrave, Gifford, and others have done. 



rebellion, strove not to establish a good constitu- 
tion, but to subvert all constitution whatsoever, — 
and establish a democracy ; and they not only 
destroyed the democracy, but the Constitution. 

Before the insurrection, Ireland had increased 
in wealth and commerce ; but so ignorant were 
the leaders of the insurgents, that they had not 
even an account of her trade, her exports, her 
imports, her revenue, her taxes; they issued no 
manifesto ; they had no declaration like the Ame- 
ricans in 1776 ; so that the people knew not 
what they meant to remedy. They were men with- 
out politics, and whose formation was on the worst 
principle possible, — namely, to separate from the 
landed interest* both English and Irish, so that 
they united against themselves the party whose 
aid was necessary to carry their objects into 
effect, Some of the leaders had talents, but 
no integrity, and little ability : the best was 
Emmett, but he was not fit or capable to be the 
head of such a party. If he had counselled them 
to resist legally, and not proceed to violence, he 
would have succeeded, and defeated both Mr. Pitt, 
and Lord Clare. Mr. Pitt would have yielded, 
and would have given up the Irish minister ; 
but he bought and kept the Minister because he 
had lost the people. Yet, although they stand 
without justification, they are not by any means 
without an apology : first, the wildness of the 
times; next, the execrable government of Lord 
Clare, and Lord Carhampton, who seemed to 
excuse their birth by wreaking their vengeance 
upon their country; and hence it is easy to con- 
ceive how men of strong national feelings, high 
spirit, good principles, and great ardour, could 

* In the Banishment Act, 38 Geo. III. c. 78, which contains two 
pages of the exiles' names, there are only nine persons who are desig- 
nated "'esquires.' 7 



have joined in a business of that revolutionary- 
character. Here was a very bad government, 
that strove by corruption, by intrigue, and by 
force, to take away the privileges that had been 
solemnly granted a few years before, (just as in 
the time of Charles the First, the king strove to 
cheat the people of England out of the concessions 
he had made) ; and if to this is added the subver- 
sion of the Constitution ; and above all, and first 
of all, the new system of Government — best un- 
derstood by its strange phraseology and its bar- 
barous sounds, — equally horrid as the necessity 
they created : Vapulation — strangulation*— flagel- 
lation — conflagration — vigor beyond the law\—free 
quarters — 4 1 means taken to make it explode. "% 
This compilation of crime rendered resistance to 
such a Government, at such a stage, merely a 
matter of jujCwij, and a question of calculation. 
And if the people had not formed a French con- 
nexion ; revolution, and the deposition of such 
ministers would have been justifiable. But if 
men were in love with rebellion, they should not 
have joined the party that led the insurrection, 
for they were peculiarly unfitted for such an en- 
terprize ; they seemed to want all the requisites 
for it — steadiness, constancy,^ fidelity, union, 
secrecy, and the two grand qualities necessary 

* A man of the name of Hepenstall, was called the walking gallows, 
from the circumstance of his hanging men across his shoulder. — See 
Barrington's History of the Union. 

f A serjeant of the North Cork Militia was surnamed Tom the Devil, 
from the practice he introduced of shaving the heads of the peasants, 
rubbing them with moist gunpowder, and then setting them on fire. — 
See Gordon's History. 

X Lord Castlereagh's flagitious and (for his reputation) fatal phrase 
in his examination of Dr. M'Nevin. This is omitted in the house of 
Commons Report. Lord Clare told M'Nevin they would only print 
what would serve their purpose. — See Pieces of Irish History. 

§ In April, 1797, the Ulster Committee were betrayed at Belfast. In 
March, 1 798, the Leinster Committee were betrayed in Dublin. On 
the 19th of May, Lord Edward Fitzgerald was betrayed, and on the 
22nd the Sheares's. 

A A 2 



[chap. X. 

for every revolt — money and courage. They 
turned the entire business into a riot. They rose 
in an irregular manner — no chieftain — no gene- 
rals : some betrayed — some fled — some confessed. 
The leaders escaped, and the people became the 
victims. The Irish are very unjustly accused of 
being bad subjects ; but it may be fairly said, 
they are the worst rebels.* 

The most remarkable of these men were the 
family of the Emmetts, three sons of Doctor 
Emmett, a physician of some note and consi- 
derable practice. He attended Mrs. Grattan in 
her illness, but his mind seemed more engaged 
with politics than medicine, and Mr. Grattan 
used jocularly to say, " Emmett had his pill and 
his plan, and he mixed so much politics with his 
prescription, that he would kill the patient who 
took the one, and ruin the country that listened to 
the other." The education he gave his sons was 
singular, and led to much of their misfortunes. 
Curran used to describe him very drolly, giving 
them their "morning draught" — "Well, Temple, 
what would you do for your country ? Addis ! 
would you kill your brother for your country? — 
would you kill your sister for your country ? — 
would you kill me ?" Thus he misdirected the 
natural spirit of youth, and infused into their 
minds an extravagant sort of patriotism. 

On one occasion, as Mr. Grattan was going into 
the House of Commons, old Emmett followed 
him with much bustle, imploring him not to lose a 
moment. " Go in and propose my plan ; — it is 
the only thing can save the country." He handed 

* When Mr. Grattan was at Maidstone with Fox, Erskine and Mr. 
O'Brien (a friend of Fox,) the latter observed to him, " If I were to 
rebel, it never would be with your countrymen (Mr. Grattan) ; for by 

G hey are the worst rebels I ever heard of." An individual came 

in to converse with Erskine about the trial, and in a short time Erskine 
said, "Sir, I would not advise Mr. O'Connor to call you as a witness : 
for from your conversation, I would hang you in five minutes." 

CHAP. X.] 



to Mr. Grattan a paper containing his prescrip- 
tion, which Mr. Grattan represented as the most 
extraordinary compound. One part of it was to 
increase the votes in the House, not by increasing 
the number of members, but by giving each 
member, a number of voices : — thus, Mr. Grattan 
was to count as five, Curran four, Hardy three, 
and so on ! 

Temple Emmett, Thomas Addis Emmett, and 
Robert Emmett, were three most singular men. 
Few families could boast of such individuals. 

Temple Emmett, before he came to the bar, 
knew more law than any of the Judges on the 
bench ; and if he had been placed on one side, 
and the whole bench opposed to him, he could 
have been examined against them, and would 
have surpassed them all ; — he would have an- 
swered better both in law and divinity than any 
judge or any bishop in the land. He had a won- 
derful memory — he recollected everything — it 
stuck to him with singular tenacity. He shewed 
this in his early youth, and on one occasion he 
gave a strong instance of it. There existed at 
that time in Dublin college an institution called 
the Historical Society ; — there were subjects se- 
lected for discussion, and prior to the debate 
there was an examination in history. On one 
occasion the books happened to be mislaid, and it 
was thought no examination could have taken 
place ; but Emmett, whose turn it was to be 
in the chair, and who had read the course, recol- 
lected the entire, and examined in every part of 
it, and with surprising ability. His eloquence 
was great, but spoiled by imagery. He had 
a singular taste — it was poetry ; in fact, he could 
not speak prose. On one occasion he was to 
close the sitting of the Society by a speech from 
the chair — he did so in a most eloquent, but 



flowery harangue; — it was full of talent, but it 
was a speech of blank verse. He sent it to Peter 
Burrowes, a great friend and admirer of the 
family ;— he begged of him to alter it, so that 
it might appear in the best manner, and to cut 
out such parts as he thought proper. Burrowes 
tried, but found he could not alter it without 
changing the entire — it was nothing but poetry. 
One passage Mr. Burrowes used to repeat with 
great earnestness and animation: — " America! — 
America ! — the land of arts and of arms, where 
that goddess, Liberty, was wooed and won, and 
twelve young eaglets springing from her nest, 
bore freedom upwards on their soaring wings." 
The whole was like this style, and Burrowes 
returned it, being unable to comply with the 
wishes of the speaker. He did not appear often 
in public, or interfere much in politics. He died 
young, in 1788, at an early age, and in high prac- 
tice at the bar. 

The next was Thomas Addis. He was called 
to the bar in 1790; — a very clever man. He 
possessed a powerful and logical mind, great 
talent and spirit. He was more connected with 
the people than his brother Temple, though he 
did not become a United Irishman till the end of 
1796. He avoided, however, to plead for them 
openly ; but in private he advised them, and 
when his character was not likely to be of dis- 
service he came forward. 

There was a case in which Mr. Burrowes pro- 
secuted, as counsel for the. crown, at Clonmell 
assizes, before Prime Serjeant Fitzgerald ; the 
charge was for administering the United Irish- 
man's oath. Thomas Addis was in the case, but 
would not appear, as his being concerned in it 
would have been quite sufficient for the jury to 
decide against his client ; but he appeared on a 

CHAP. X.] 



motion in arrest of judgment; and he argued the 
case with a knowledge of law, and a power of 
logic, that surprised every one who heard him. 
Redisplayed an intimacy with the abstrusest parts 
of the science, and maintained that in no country 
could such an oath be considered penal ; that no 
one could be punished for taking it : and he con- 
cluded by a bold act. After a short pause he ad- 
dressed the court thus : 

u My Lords, here in the presence of this legal court, this 
crowded auditory, in the presence of the Being that sees 
and witnesses, and directs this judicial tribunal, — here, my 
Lords, I — I myself, in the presence of God, declare, I 
take the oath." 

He accordingly kissed the book, and sat down. 
The court were surprised. They took no step 
against him ; they were afraid ; and the prisoners 
punishment soon after was reduced to something 
very trifling. 

The youngest brother, Robert, was a very 
clever man, but devoid of prudence and of judg- 
ment. His objects were quite visionary; yet he 
was an honourable enthusiast — as much opposed 
to the French as to the English, and ready to 
make war against both. He possessed the powers 
of eloquence in a surprising degree ; and Mr. 
Burrowes (a good judge), used to say, that he was 
superior in this respect to any man he ever heard, 
in any country. He had a richness, a flow, and 
a style, both as to matter and manner, above any 
thing he had ever heard from any man. There 
were fine traits too in his character : the following 
was one of them. His attachment to Miss Cur- 
ran was well known.* When he was sent to 
prison for the outbreak in 1803, he took aside the 
gaoler, and gave him a letter for Miss Curran, 
and all the money he had about him, and begged 

* A small tract, entitled " The Broken Heart," gives an account of it. 


that he would deliver it safe. The man, in the 
discharge of his duty, gave the letter to the 
Attorney-general. Emmett found this out, and he 
immediately sent to Government to say he had 
imprudently written such a letter; that it had 
come to their hands : he had thus injured an in- 
nocent and guiltless female ; and knowing how 
much the Government were afraid of his address- 
ing the people at his execution, he begged of 
them to have the letter delivered, and that if they 
refused, he would not fail to address the people, 
and would do so with greater determination ; but 
if they sent the letter, he would agree to appear 
in court, plead guilty, and go to execution with- 
out saying a word. That was certainly a fine 
trait in his character. The letter related to po- 
litics as well as to love; and in it he mentions 
there was only one thing in the whole of his con- 
duct with which he had (and justly), to reproach 
himself — that was his imprudence ; and one great 
cause of his failure, he attributed to the mild- 
ness of the Government ; which he termed their 
"insidious moderation." This was the severest 
censure on Lord Camden's administration, and the 
highest praise of Lord Hardwicke's. The one in- 
flamed the people by its violence — the other dis- 
armed them by its moderation. Mr. Grattan's 
remarks on the Emmetts, though in a jocular 
strain, are not devoid of interest. 

Emmett and his father were both quacks — one in poli- 
tics, the other in physic — the one was a statesman 
despising experience, and the other a physician despising 
practice. They did much mischief. Emmett's plan of 
reform was abominable, as well as impracticable : he set 
up his own crude notions as settled rules ; and his plan 
was founded not upon practice, but upon his own imagina- 
tion ; it was full of wildness — there were to be 300 elec- 
tions every year, all going on at the same time, and every 
man was to possess a right to vote. The whole country 


was thus to be placed in a state of tumult and agitation — 
all in conflagration — like 300 windmills in motion all at 
once — this too in a country, one-third of whose population 
were so destitute that they were exempted from paying 
hearth-money tax, in consequence of their poverty. Em- 
mett forgot that elections and representation are a work of 
art — he considered them as one of the operations of 

When he went to America, he thought his political life 
was at an end, but it was only just beginning. Had Go- 
vernment intended to have rendered him harmless, they 
should have kept him at home, where he would have staid, 
a tarnished lawyer, with little business ; but, sent to Ame- 
rica, he found means to annoy England, and do there 
what he never could have done in his own country. 

England should take care — she transports a great deal 
of hostile spirit to that quarter. 

The following letter, with which I was favoured 
by Mr. Burrowes, possesses some interest, and 
bears upon the remark made by Mr. Grattan ; 
it is a good lesson to future governments not to ren- 
der men such as Emmett, enemies to the country. 
The death of an individual removes a foe, but the 
proscription of a tribe, perpetuates their impla- 
cability. The Irish Government ineffectually 
tried both. Mr. Emmett's reception in America; 
the rank he rose to in his profession,* and the 
honours paid to him after his death, are too well 
known to be repeated. 


New York, 19 th Nov. 1806. 
My dear Burrowes ; — I had the pleasure of receiving 
yours of July last in due time ; and first, as to the matter 
of business to which it alludes. I have inquired after Mr. 

's claim to property in Baltimore, and the result is 

pretty conclusively, that nothing can now be done, and 
probably never could, even if the party entitled had come 
out here to urge his claim. Mr. is at present at 

* He was attorney-general of New York, and would have been 
elected to Congress, if he had chosen. His remains were honoured with 
the finest funeral next to Washington's and Franklin's. 

362 t. a. emmett's letter to burrowes. [chap. X. 

Baltimore, and I have furnished him with all the informa- 
tion I could get before his departure, and on his return 
shall put into his hands another letter I have since received ; 
he, therefore, will, I suppose, write more particularly than 
I have time to do. As to your late law arrangements, I 
sincerely rejoice, my good friend, that promotion has fallen 
upon your head,* and those of some others where I think 
it well bestowed. However, there are in the list of promo- 
tions, men of whom I never wish to think ; because I can- 
not think of them without the strongest emotions of aver- 
sion and disgust — strong and warm as was my former 
friendship. In the conclusion of your letter, you ask a 
question which, if I did not know the occasional absence 
of your thoughts,^ would have caused me much specula- 
tion, — " Do you ever mean to visit us?" says an influen- 
tial officer of the government of Ireland to a proscribed 
exile, whose return would be death by law ; " or to send 
over any of your children V A man who was very anxious 
to return would catch at this offer ; but that is not my 
case. I am settled here with the fairest prospects for my- 
self and my children. My principles and my sufferings 
were my first passport and introduction here, and they pro- 
cured me the effective friendship of the leading characters 
in this State, and in the Union at large. In proportion as 
I cherish those principles, I am respected; and every day's 
reflection and observation makes them dearer to me. 
Ought I to go where they are treasonable and sufficient 
ground for perpetual proscription? Besides, my good 
friend, I am too proud, when vanquished, to assist by my 
presence in gracing the triumph of the victor; and with 
what feelings should I tread on Irish ground ? — as if I were 
walking over graves, and those the graves of my nearest 
relations and dearest friends. No; I can never wish to be 
in Ireland, except in such a way as none of my old friends 
connected with the Government could wish to see me 
placed in. As to my children, I hope they will love liberty 
too much ever to fix a voluntary residence in an enslaved 

* He was appointed first counsel to the Commissioners of Revenue? 
under Mr. Fox's administration in 1806; not a permanent situation, 
but at that time a lucrative one. 

f An instance of Mr. Burrowes's absence of mind is well known. — 
Being on circuit, a brother barrister entered his room while at breakfast, 
and found Burrowes standing at the fire, as he thought, boiling his egg, 
but in mistake, he had put his watch in the saucepan, and was holding 
the egg in his hand. 



country. Nothing in their future prospects gives me 
greater pain than the fear that my eldest boy will be 
obliged, when he comes of age, to go to Ireland, to dispose 
of some settled property, which, if 1 were worth a few thou- 
sand dollars more, I should wish rather in the hands of my 
greatest enemy than his. There is not now in Ireland an 
individual that bears the name of Emmett — I do not wish 
that there ever should, while it is connected with England 
— and yet it will, perhaps, be remembered in its history.* 

With the very sincerest and warmest esteem, believe me 
ever yours, T. A. Emmett. 

The next was Lord Edward Fitzgerald, of noble 
descent, strong Irish feelings, ancient Irish fa- 
mily — and one that had given many martyrs in 
the cause of their country. f He was a man of 
gallant bearing, high honour, great spirit, and un- 
questionable courage. His deportment was grace- 
ful and pleasing; his voice was sweet, and its 
tones harmonious ; his person was light and agile ; 
his manner was gentle and attractive, and he was 
sure to engage, if not to captivate, by his ingenuous 
ardour, and his winning address. He had tra- 
velled in his youth, and had seen somewhat of the 
world, both in Europe and America ; but he did 
not know the arts and the baseness of men, 
though he hated their excesses. He was a most 

* Mr. Burrowes seems to have forgotten that the Banishment Act 
punished with transportation any person who corresponded with the 
Irish exiles. Ilis transgression, however, was purely innocent, and is at 
once a proof that many of our laws are of little avail, and that men are 
governed much more by the feelings of the mind, than by the enact- 
ments of the statute. 

f They were said to be in those days Hibeniis ipsis Hiberniores. — 
In the time of Henry VIII., Gerald, ninth Earl of Kildare, who had 
been Lord Deputy in Ireland, was called over to London to answer 
certain charges that were maliciously preferred against him. He was 
committed to the Tower to await the decision of the King, but died 
through grief and disappointment. His son, Lord Thomas, resisted the 
Deputy, Lord Grey ; he was taken prisoner, and sent to England along 
with his five uncles, three of whom had never taken up arms; however, 
they were all put on their trial, and all executed. A few years afterwards, 
Lord Gerald, his son Thomas, and two more of the family were attainted 
by act of parliament. 


attached and dutiful son, a kind master, and an 
affectionate and tender husband. Born in 1763, 
he served in the British army in America, in 1781, 
under Lord Cornwallis, Lord Moira, (then Raw- 
don) and General (afterwards Sir John) Doyle. 
On the retreat of some of the British troops he 
shewed skill and judgment ; he displayed much 
gallantry on the occasion, and was wounded in 
the service. In 1783 he returned to Ireland, and 
was elected Member of Parliament for the borough 
of Athy. At the period of the French Revolution, 
being unfortunately in Paris, he attended a pub- 
lic dinner, — assumed the name of citizen Fitz- 
gerald, — and, along with several Englishmen, 
drank some Jacobinical toasts, which gave great 
offence to the British authorities, and he was, in 
consequence, deprived of his commission in the 
army.* This insult, as well as injury, preyed 
deeply upon his mind, and he never forgot or 
forgave it. He returned to Ireland — vexed and 
indignant, and impregnated with French doc- 
trines, and with the political sentiments of the 
day : he suffered himself to be influenced a good 
deal by resentment; and having married a French 
lady,f was somewhat affected, and perhaps injured 
by her principles and foreign connexions. His 
name would, probably, have had weight in any 
civil commotion, and he might have formed a 
standard around which a good deal of the spirit 
and enthusiasm of the Irish would be likely to 
have rallied. He would have commanded a regi- 
ment well, and possibly, in time, an army. He 
had a quick eye, great presence of mind, rapid 
decision, firmness of purpose, great boldness — 
no sense whatever either of danger or of fear; 

* He was on the eve of being appointed Major. 

t He married, in the latter end of 1792, Pamela, a pretty, interesting 
little woman, daughter of Egalite, Duke of Orleans and Madame de 
Genlis, by whom he had a son and two daughters. 

CHAP. X,] 



but he was not without great imprudence, and 
some vanity.* His want of caution appeared on 
his journey on the Continent in 1796, when his 
conversation enabled one of his travelling com- 
panions to penetrate his object ; and a lady, who 
happened to be one of the company, and singu- 
larly enough, connected with a friend of Mr. 
Pitt, communicated to him through that channel, 
what she conceived to be his designs. After the 
period of his arrest on the 19th of May, he ap- 
pears to have exposed himself unnecessarily and 
imprudently, and this, in all probability, led to 
his discovery and capture. His generous and 
manly nature, with his frank, open disposition, 
rendered him too confiding. He lacked the qua- 
lities required for a conspirator — darkness, re- 
serve, craft, caution, dissimulation. He had 
feelings of revenge, but none of inhumanity, and 
was sensitively alive to the injuries inflicted on his 
country. He strove to avenge them prematurely ; 
but he had not judgment to devise the proper plan 
— prudence to concert it, or patience to await the 
fitting moment for its execution : thus blinded 
and bewildered, he precipitated his own downfall, 
and that of his country. He fell a victim to a 
generous enthusiasm, and a mistaken sense of 
patriotism, and was sacrificed and betrayed by a 
low and faithless set, and lost his life in a wild 
and foolish insurrection. 

Next came Arthur O'Connor. He was a man 
of talent, of spirit, and of eloquence ; pleasing in 
appearance, and rather engaging in manners ; but 
he was devoid of principle. His commencement 
in the Irish Parliament in 1790, was a bad one. 
He opposed the Pension Bill of Mr. Forbes, and 
praised the Earl of Westmoreland, then Lord-lieu- 
tenant. He spoke ill — injured, perhaps, by the 

* Murat was one of Buonaparte's best and vainest officers. 



[CHAP. X. 

badness of his cause ; but though he made an 
inauspicious beginning, yet soon afterwards he 
rallied. He cast off the rusty fetters of the court, 
and their sycophantic phrases ; and on the Ca- 
tholic question he came forward with power and 
effect. His speech was an excellent performance, 
and greatly admired ; it embraced much ex- 
traneous matter, and showed that he had studied 
much, and was a clever and an eloquent man : 
his statements were able ; his argument was close 
and short, and his composition without a defect. 
He had been intended for the church, and had 
taken deacon's orders ; but he soon abandoned 
that profession, and was brought into Parliament 
by his relation Lord Longueville, who offered him 
a situation under Government, which he states 
that he refused; differing, however, from him in 
political views, and voting against his patron, he 
conceived himself obliged in honour, to relinquish 
his seat ; and the other thought he was bound 
not only to take that from him, but his fortune 
likewise ; and he ungenerously deprived him of a 
considerable property which O'Connor expected 
to inherit. His addresses to the county of Antrim, 
for which he was imprisoned, (but without trial 
or sentence), possess spirit and ability, but evince 
a want of prudence and discretion, and partake 
too much of the style and the foreign fashion of 
the day. His letter to Lord Castlereagh, from 
prison, was manly and fearless, trench fraternity 
was his ruin. He was certainly a man of parts ; 
but wanted somewhat more good faith, sound 
judgment, and sterling principles.* 

M'Nevin was an able man — Jackson a man of 

* After a long detention in captivity at Fort George, contrary both 
to the letter and the spirit of the agreement made on the part of the 
exiles with the Irish Government, he entered into the military service of 
France, and was appointed by Buonaparte one of the officers to call out 
the Conscription of the North. 



spirit and of honour. Mr. Burrowes, who knew 
them all, used to relate an anecdote of the latter 
that redounds to his credit. There was a young- 
person who attended the meetings of the United 
Irishmen, for whom Jackson had a great regard, 
and he said to him, " Leave us — you have a large 
family — go home, and have nothing to do with 
the United Irishmen. I am embarked too 
deeply — I cannot recede." He was a gentleman, 
and also a republican — but a republican who 
would have been led to support a settled form 
of government by the correction of abuses. 

Henry and John Sheares were brothers, men of 
good character in the South of Ireland, well- 
educated, and brought up to the profession of 
the law. They were, in private, amiable, pleasing, 
and gentle in their nature ; Henry in particular, 
almost to weakness. They were men of good 
repute, and of some practice at the bar ; but in 
point of ability, spirit, and courage, such as was 
necessary for the dangerous enterprize in which 
they engaged, they were very deficient. They 
had gone to France for a short period of time, and 
from thence they returned with French principles, 
with whimsical notions and revolutionary ideas. 
They assumed the emblems of party, its colours, 
and its ribands, which they displayed when dan- 
ger was not near ; but at its approach these foolish 
badges led them into peril, and then they became 
afraid. They entered late into the executive 
directory of the United Irishmen, and were most 
basely and cruelly betrayed by a Captain Arm- 
strong, who gained their confidence, encouraged 
their plots, forwarded their objects, then sacrificed 
their lives. All this was done for weeks, with 
the knowledge and approbation of Government, 
who, far from arresting them at the outset, or even 
during the progress of their treason, deliberately 



[CHAP. X. 

encouraged it through their agent, and, as cruel- 
hearted as they were cold-blooded, treacherously- 
awaited till the moment of its execution,* and 
then they pounced upon their ensnared and de- 
luded victims. The brothers walked hand-in- 
hand to the same scaffold, and perished together. 

Samuel Neilson was a man of principle : his real 
object was Parliamentary Reform. He conducted 
a newspaper set up at Belfast, in 1791, upon re- 
publican principles. He had been imprisoned for 
upwards of a year, on the information of a person, 
who declared afterwards that no charge could be 
proved against him, and was liberated in February 
1798. He was sent for, and closetted with Mr. 
Pelham, on an enquiry by the Secretary as to 
the probability of conciliating the North of Ire- 
land by granting Reform, and at the period of his 
release he was in habits of intercourse with the 
people of the Castle. They sought him in order 
to obtain intelligence, as he was an open-mouthed 
person. He was not devoid of taste and talent, 
was fond of books, and in politics was extrava- 
gant, but not irreclaimable. He was imprudent 
in conduct, very intemperate in his habits, and 
addicted to dissipation, all which rendered him 
very unfitf for an undertaking such as that in 
which he was embarked. 

His figure was Herculean, and his mind and 
manner were similar, and as bold. He at- 
tempted to force the jail, after the capture of 
Lord Edward Fitzgerald, and rescue the State 

* Lord Castlereagh could have stopped them, at least one fortnight 
before, for he was regularly informed by Armstrong of the result of each 
interview, and every communication with the Sheares's — but he allowed 
them to go on. — See the trial. 

f The letter of Sheares, found on him when he was arrested, in which 
the former expostulated with him on his attempt to rescue the state 
prisoners, is a proof of his want of judgment and prudence, and shows 
how little concert and subordination existed, among the leaders even of 
that party. — Report Secret Committee. 



prisoners at Newgate. He was taken ; his clothes 
were torn off him, and his body wounded all over 
by the soldiers hacking at him ; he was cut and 
scarred in upwards of fifty places, and was only 
saved by the number of his opponents, and drag- 
ged into jail. When brought into the Court, the 
noise of his entrance was like the march of men in 
iron. He was called on to plead, and asked if he 
had anything to say ; he replied, in a stentorian 
voice, " No ! — I have been robbed of everything ; 
I could not fee counsel ; my property — everything 
has been taken from me !" — and he turned away, 
but he came again to the front, and said, " For 
myself, I have nothing to say — I scorn your power, 
and despise that authority that it shall ever he my 
pride to have opposed ; but I may say — not that 
I value it — why am I kept with these weighty 
irons on me, so heavy that three ordinary men 
could scarcely carry them ? Is it your law, that 
I should be placed in irons, and in such irons?" 
Lord Carleton,* who was one of the Judges, 
called up the jailor (Gregg) to account for this : 
he said, " It is true, my Lord, he is in irons, and 
in such irons as I would not think of putting on 
any two men ; but it was necessary — my life was 
attempted — I was not safe." Neilson interrupted 

* Lord Carleton had been solicitor-general several years before. 
He was a timid man ; his mind was weakness itself. He understood law 
very well, and proved to be an excellent judge. He was very sharp, and 
at the state trials was cool and collected, not influenced by the fury and 
passion of the times, though he was by the result. He was remarkable 
for a pleasing address, and for the goodness of his manners; but in 
politics he had no idea whatever of public spirit or principle ; in the 
House of Commons he made a wretched figure. In the Lords he sup- 
ported the Union, not by arguments, but in the weakest and most 
pusil'animous style of reasoning. After that, he was allowed to retire 
on a large pension, in consequence of a plea of bad health, and he lived 
in London for upwards of twenty years in the gayest style. 

Some lawyer observing to Curran that his sharpness surprised him, 
Curran replied, " Don't you know that water turned to ice cuts like 
adamant ? That's Carleton's case. All his former fears have collected 
themselves, and have become condensed." 


B B 



him : "Your life ! — I scorned to take it — I did not 
resist till I was nearly torn to pieces — and in de- 
fence of myself I resisted — I would scorn to take 
your life" — and he looked at him with savage con- 
tempt. He refused to engage counsel to defend 
him ; his trial, however, did not come on, and he 
was included in the list of exiles that went into 

Curran, who had undertaken his defence, went 
to see him in prison. He was loaded with chains, 
but his mind was firm and undaunted, and his 
spirits as buoyant as in the days of prosperity : 
fear never entered into his composition. Curran 
exclaimed, " Neilson, I am sorry to see you 
thus." "Oh!" said he, kicking off his chains, 
" do you think I wear these always ? I sent for 
John the inspector. 'John, do you see that 
bottle ? — do you see this half- crown ? — what should 
be done with this half-crown and that bottle V 
' Fill it with whiskey, Sir,' said he. ' Now, John, 
I have been kind to you heretofore — look here, 
take notice of these pins — I will break that bottle 
on your head ; so make your election, either fetch 
the whiskey or have the bottle broken on your 
head.' " " But," said Curran, " are you not afraid 
to speak thus ? — don't you know they may chain 
you to the ground ? — not able to stir ?" " What 
of that ? " Neilson replied ; " it is but for a 
time ; — my limbs will feel more pleasant when 
they get out of them."* 

Curran used to relate another anecdote of him 
and Reynolds the informer. The latter was in the 
pay of Government, and at length began to be sus- 
pected. Neilson one day saw him in College 
Green, and coming up, he seized him with Her- 

* After his liberation from Fort George, he went, in 1802, to Altona, 
and subsequently to Van Dieman's Land, where he died, as I heard, 
from dissipation. 


culean force, and kept his arm under him as if in 
a vice ; he hurried him along without opening his 
lips, until he got him into a dark entry off Thomas- 
street ; and having got him in there, he exclaimed, 
" Reynolds ! what punishment do you think 
should be inflicted upon a villain who would 
betray you ?" Reynolds was frightened, but hav- 
ing had time to collect himself, looking at Neilson 
he exclaimed, " Bring me to the atrocious villain, 
and with this hand I will blow his brains out" — 
he acted it icell. Neilson said, "Ah! you are 
doubted ; — I shall have you watched — if you go 
away, depend on it you will fall." A few days 
after Reynolds betrayed them all. 

bb 2 



Mr. Grattan remains at Tinnehinch — Visit by Neilson and the Govern- 
ment spy — Mr. Grattan's statement — Conduct of Government — 
Reynolds the informer — Lord Edward Fitzgerald — Lord Clonmell 
— The Ancient Britons — Lord Dufferin's visit — O'Connor's trial — 
Narrative by Mrs. Grattan — Excesses by the Yeomanry and Ancient 
Britons — French tutor's escape from hanging — Mr. Grattan arrested in 
London — Free quarters at Mrs. Bermingham's — Mrs. Grattan goes to 
Wales — Sir Ralph Abercromby resigns the command of the troops in 
Ireland — Cruel orders of Sir James Stuart — Arrest and death of Lord 
Edward Fitzgerald — Conduct of Lord Camden — Lady Louisa Conolly 
and Lord Clare — Insurrection breaks out 23rd of May — Martial law 
proclaimed — Conduct of John Claudius Beresford and Colonel Max- 
well (afterwards Lord Farnham) — Proposals of execution and confis- 
cation discouraged — Excesses of the military — Burning Maynooth, 
Kilcock, Celbridge — Conduct in the county of Wicklow — Sir John 
Moore's remarks on the Yeomanry — Various conflicts during the 
Insurrection — General Nugent's cruel proclamation — The chieftains 
Holt and Dwyer, traits of — Mr. Sheridan's motion in the British 
House of Commons on behalf of Ireland — Lord Cornwallis sent to 
Ireland — Landing and capture of the French under Humbert — Dr. 
Duigenan's pamphlet, attacks Mr. Grattan — The latter proceeds to 
Dublin — Narrow escape at Tinnehinch — Letters to Mr. Berwick and 
M'Can — Report of Secret Committee of the House of Lords — Neilson 
and Hughes' evidence — Difference between the Reports of the Com- 
mons and the Lords — Mr. Grattan disfranchised by the corporation 
of Dublin — His name struck from the privy council — Letters of 
Dowdall and Neilson — Mr. Grattan's letters to Mr. Fox, Mr. Berming- 
ham, and Mr. M'Can — Statement by Mr. Grattan submitted to Mr. 
(afterwards Lord) Erskine — Opinion of the latter — Mr. Grattan's 
letter to the Courier newspaper on his disfranchisement by the Dublin 
corporation — Letters of Mr. Berwick and Mr. Fox — Dowdall and 
Bird's singular letters to Mr. Grattan. 

During these melancholy and eventful times, 
Mr. Grattan remained in the country, well aware, 
however, of the danger that surrounded him ; 
having seen by the disclosures made to Lord 
Moira, what the informers and spies of Govern- 
ment were capable of doing — what desperate 
courses they pursued, and how ready they were 
to take away a man's reputation, his liberty, or 
his life. 



An event occurred at this period, which, though 
in appearance trivial, might have proved fatal to 
him in times of civil commotion, where party rage 
and passion so strongly prevailed, and where 
reason and justice were wholly lost sight of. 
This circumstance was the visit of Samuel Neilson 
to Tinnehinch, in company with Hughes, the spy 
of G overnment . The proceeding, if not precon- 
certed so as to affect Mr. Grattan's lite, was cer- 
tainly done in order to injure his character, and 
was purposely set forth with much parade by 
the Government party, in the Report of the 
House of Lords. Passion blinded Lord Clare, 
and he inserted the evidence ; but Mr, Foster 
(the Speaker), seeing at once the glaring perjury 
of the informer, objected to have it introduced in 
the evidence of the Commons, — and hence the 
difference that exists between the two reports. 
Unquestionably, if Neilson had followed the ex- 
ample of Hughes, he might (in part at least) have 
corroborated his perjury ; but Neilson was a man 
not to be seduced or intimidated ; and as will 
subsequently be seen, he declared the truth, as 
far as he was concerned, and exposed the false- 
hood and baseness of the Government party. 

The account which Air. Grattan gave to me of 
the transaction was as follows : 

" The conversation and interview with Neilson was no- 
thing — it was quite accidental . I was in my study, and 
Neilson was shown up along with a Mr. Hughes, whom I 
did not know. They complained very much of the ex- 
cesses in the north of Ireland, and of the murders of the 
Catholics; and 1 remember Hughes saying that the phrase 
used by the anti-Catholics was, 'To Connaught or to hell 
with you !' They stated their numbers to be very great, and I 
then asked, ' How does it come, then, that they are always 
beat?' I did not ask the question with a view to learn 
their force, as the examination would lead one to believe, 
but in consequence of these two individuals boasting of the 
numbers of those men who could not protect themselves. 

374 mr. grattan's position reviewed, [chap. XI. 

Hughes then went down stairs, and Neilson asked me to 
become a United Irishman. I declined. He produced the 
constitution, and left it in the room. This was nothing 
new ; I had seen it long before, and it was generally printed 
and published. Hughes then returned, and they both 
went away. That was the entire of the transaction to which 
so much importance was attached." 

I believe Mr. Grattan knew very little about the 
individuals who composed the United Party. He 
did not associate with them ; they kept clear of him 
— they feared him — and certainly they did not like 
him. Tone stated so, and Neilson likewise. Mr. 
Grattan did not know the Sheares, even by sight. 
Of Sampson he had a very slight knowledge. O'Con- 
nor he knew merely from being in Parliament : 
with Emmett (the son), he had little acquaint- 
ance. He entertained a better opinion of Neilson, 
thinking him a practical man, who had shown his 
readiness to support a rational reform, and lay 
aside the wild notions of universal suffrage and 
annual parliaments. 

Mr. Grattan was by far too experienced a 
person to place himself in that distressing situ- 
ation, where he would be privy to proceedings 
which would have been disagreeable to him to 
know, and dangerous not to reveal. I believe he 
had a very inferior opinion of the United Men, 
and of their abilities. He thought that the insurrec- 
tion could have been stopped if Government had 
chosen ; but that they fermented it for their own 
views. Men without a treasury, — with a deficient 
armoury,without rank, or weight, or consequence : 
an undisciplined mass of people, devoid of mili- 
tary leaders, and experience. Their proceedings 
he considered not only mischievous, but ridicu- 
lous ; and he was to the last degree provoked, 
when he beheld the triumph over the country 
and the Constitution, which he had assisted to 
procure, given by such misguided men as the 
insurgents, to such designing and wicked men 



as the Ministers — Carhampton, Clare, Castle- 
reagh, — and last, not least — Archbishop Agar. 
This, indeed, almost drove him to a state of dis- 
traction. It is probable that if his real opinion 
had been asked, he would have told the United 
Men, — " You are a pack of blockheads ! and will 
surely get yourselves hanged ; and you should all 
be put in the pillory for your mischief and your 
folly !" Unquestionably, Mr. Grattan would not 
have followed the example of the Minister, who, 
knowing the treason, deliberately permitted it to 
proceed, and thereby irretrievably injured the 
country. Reynolds, the informer, has removed 
all doubt on the subject. In a very long and in- 
volved affidavit, he completely exposed the con- 
duct of Government ; for he swore that on the 24th 
of February, 1798, he dined with Lord Edward 
Fitzgerald, who gave him various papers in his 
own writing, to copy ; that these stated the num- 
ber of men — the amount of prisoners — the military 
and political resolutions of the United party. He 
swears that the next day, the 25th, he made the dis- 
closure to Cope, for the purpose of informing the Go- 
vernment : he told all he knew of their plans, and 
in particular, the account of the proceedings that 
he got from Lord Edward. Cope proceeded to 
inform the Government, having purposely ap- 
plied to Reynolds. It is thus clear that Lord 
Edward could have been immediately appre- 
hended and very possibly on the next day, if the 
Government party chose it ; but far from that, 
they did not arrest him till nearly three months 
after, and within three days of the insurrection 
breaking out. During that interval, this spy of 
Government (in their pay, and receiving 500/. for 
his discovery), had repeated interviews, and by ap- 
pointment, with Lord Edward. He swears, that on 
the 11th of March, before the arrests took place, 
he met him at Leinster Hoase, {the Government all 

376 ld.clonmell's opinion of ministers; [chap. xi. 

this time being aware that Lord Edward was thus 
implicated) — that on the 14th of March he had 
another interview with him ; and on the 15th of 
March, a third, specially arranged the night pre- 
vious, by Lord Edward, with Reynolds, to take place 
at the same hour and the same house. Thus his 
arrest could easily have been made,— and he being 
early taken,-—the subsequent bloodshed and car- 
nage would have been spared to the country, and 
to humanity. 

It was for this connivance — this misprision of 
treason, that Lord Clonmell found fault with the 
Minister : he did not wish to conceal the treason, 
and let it ripen. Lord Clonmell, who had some 
knowledge of law, though, perhaps, no great love 
for the Constitution of Ireland, thought that the 
state was likely to receive great injury, whether 
the conspiracy was kept secret by the party who 
wished it to succeed, or by those who wished the 
reverse ; whether it was hatched by the con- 
spirator, or fostered by the Minister — by a man 
who did not wish to hang the traitors, or by one 
who wished to destroy them — and something more 
— the Constitution also. Lord Clonmell was not 
of a cold-blooded temperament ; he strove to stop 
this disastrous business at the outset ; but, as he 
stated to his nephew, he was over-ruled, and his 
advice rejected by the Council. Hence his strong 
and homely phrase, reproaching the Government, 
and saying, " he would rather be a chimney-sweeper 
than be connected with them.'" Hence his dying de- 
claration to Dean Scott, the disclosure of his con- 
duct, and that of his colleagues. At his last 
hour, he sought to clear himself before the world, 
and to free his conscience of the heinous crime of 
blood ; and he stands acquitted in the sight of his 
country and his God ! 

But it is impossible that other members of that 
Government can escape the censure of a cool and 


calm-judging posterity. Let the foregoing state- 
ments be read — the facts and dates referred to,— 
and no honest man will hesitate to pass upon them 
the sentence of ' Guilty.' It almost seemed on their 
part a refinement, as well as a love of cruelty ; 
for while they were ensnaring their victims, and 
stealthily drawing the net over their devoted 
heads, they affected a regard for the individuals 
they were victimizing; and Lord Clare tells some 
of the Leinster family, " For God's sake let that 
young man be sent out of the kingdom — the 
ports shall be left open for his departure ;" while 
at that very time the paid spy and protege of Cas- 
tlereagh — this notorious Reynolds — was meeting, 
conferring, consulting, and plotting with Lord 
Edward, under the sanction of Government, from 
the 25th of February to the lGth of March!.! 
What dereliction of public duty could be greater? 
— what private treachery more infamous? What 
more cruel or cold-blooded crime — more odious 
or abhorred in sight of God or man ! More — 
much more I could add; but enough has been 
said to extenuate the conduct of the ensnared and 
unhappy people, and to vindicate, though, per- 
haps, not to clear, the character of my ill-treated 

The object of those in power, and their under- 
lings, which might almost be called " the order of 
the day" seemed to be to get one man to swear 
against another, and on the slightest information 
the person was taken up and sent to Dublin Castle 
or to gaol. I recollect to have heard that some 
of the furious self-styled loyalists used to exclaim, 
" Will no one swear against G rattan T and 1 remem- 
ber on one occasion great alarm was excited in the 
neighbourhood of Tinnehinch, by the sergeant of 
the Yeomanry corps coming up the road at full 
gallop, and his sabre drawn, exclaiming, " Such a 
man, by G — / lias sworn against G rattan !" The 



people were also thrown into a state of the greatest 
terror by the Ancient Britons, who were quartered 
in the county, who frightened the inhabitants, and 
committed the greatest excesses.* Such being 
the fearful state of affairs, a relation of Mrs. Grat- 
tan (Stevenson Blackwood, afterwards Lord Duf- 
ferin,) a member of Parliament, and supporter of 
Government, a man of the best heart and kindest 
feelings, came purposely to Tinnehinch, and 
represented to her "that as her health was infirm, 
and caused her frequently to go to England, it 
would be prudent of her to make such an excuse 
at present, and that it could be done without 
creating any bad appearance in order to take Mr. 
Grattan out of the country, for the times were 
dangerous, and that he was watched.^ This she 
mentioned to Mr. Grattan ; but he was obstinate, 
and would not stir. At length Mr. Fox and 
Arthur O'Connor did by accident what she and 
her friends in vain attempted ; they applied to 
him to go over to England to give evidence at 
Maidstone at the trials for high treason : O'Con- 
nor, along with four individuals, had been arrested 
on the 27th of February, in attempting to get 
across from Margate to the Continent. O'Connor 
had taken an active part in Parliament on the 
Catholic question, and had made some sacrifices 
for the maintenance of his opinions : he was 
acquainted with Sir Francis Burdett and several 
members of Parliament in England ; his case was 

* Barrington, in his History of the Union, asserts that the ancient 
Britons actually sawed a man's head off ; they were commanded by Major 
Wardle, who instituted the proceedings in 1809 against the Duke of 
York respecting Mrs. Clarke : their colonel was Sir Watkin Williams 
Wynn ; they were a savage and a sanguinary crew, and expiated their 
cruelties and their crimes at Ballyellis, in the county of Wexford, where 
most of them were killed by Holt and his party. — See Gordon — Mus- 
grave— Holt's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 78. 

f Lord Dufferin was a great friend of Lord Castlereagh, and it is 
likely that he may have been apprised through this channel of Hughes' 
visit to Tinnehinch. 


taken up by them with much eagerness, and he 
was warmly espoused by the English Opposition. 
Mr. Grattan was now applied to, to give evidence 
as to his character , — and he felt that it would 
have been a great reflection upon him, when his 
fellow-countryman was on trial for his life, if he 
should have been supported by Englishmen and 
abandoned by the Irish. He accordingly went 
over in the month of April. The result is well 
known ; O'Connor was acquitted, and O'Coigley, 
a Roman Catholic priest, was found guilty and 

A memorandum, made by Mrs. Grattan, of the 
events at this period, and which I procured from 
her, will serve to throw some light on the subjects 
just alluded to, and will also present a faithful 
picture of those trying difficulties, from which 
good fortune and Providence alone enabled her 
and Mr. Grattan to escape. She observes : — 

* On reading the report of this trial, the certainty of justice in an 
English court, contrasted with the chance of it at that period in an Irish 
one, is very striking. Here the jury were impartial, the judge unbiassed, 
and Mr O'Connor had ample justice done to him. A strong instance 
appeared in an attempt which had been made by a clergyman of the 
name of Young, to prejudice the jurors. He had written a letter, 
stating that he had " exerted all his eloquence with three of the jurymen 
to convince them how absolutely necessary it was at the present moment 
that the felons should swing, and I urged them by all possible means in my 
power to hang them through mercy, as a memento to others." This 
letter being produced, roused the indignation of Judge Buller, who pre- 
sided, and who condemned in the severest manner the shameful pro- 
ceeding, but he could not get the reverend offender within his juris- 
diction, or he would have punished him as he deserved. O'Connor's 
examination of one of the witnesses was injudicious, and injurious to 
O'Coigley ; in Ireland he possibly would have been convicted : the high 
character of those who gave evidence in his behalf, probably saved his 
life. These were, the Duke of Norfolk, Lord Suffolk, Lord John Russell, 
Lord Thanet, Lord Oxford, Lord Lauderdale, Messrs. Fox, Sheridan, 
Grattan, Erskine, Taylor, and Whitbread. I may here do to Sir Francis 
Burdett the justice to say, that at a period long subsequent, he came 
over to Ireland in a case of Roger O'Connor (brother to Arthur), and 
gave evidence in his favour at a trial in the county of Meath, whereby 
he was mainly instrumental in procuring his acquittal. Such is the 
unflinching spirit of men in a cause which they consider to be just. 
After the trial Arthur O'Connor was immediately arrested under a war- 
rant from the Duke of Portland, and sent to Ireland. 

380 mrs. grattan's account of the [chap. XI. 

" It was very fortunate for me that Mr. Grattan was 
sent for to England — if he had remained here, he certainly 
would have been put to death — the rebels would have 
seized him as they did Mr. Grogan,* or the Orangemen 
would have killed him. After he had gone to Maidstone, 
I remained alone at Tinnehinch — the people frightened me 
exceedingly, and behaved extremely ill. Some of the yeo- 
men wanted to get money — one of them, * * *, desired 
I should come to his house, and that he would show me proofs 
of Mr, Grattan's treason — the conversations he had with 
the rebels, and the plan he had taken of the Dargle. I 
asked for the plan, and he said he had it not about him. 
He then asked me for money; however, I paid no atten- 
tion to them. Another yeoman,* * *, took two of our 
horses, saying that he alsof had proofs of Mr. Grattan's 
treason — he turned his stock into our grounds— destroyed 
our garden and an entire orchard of trees. At length 
Stevenson Blackwood came again — his kindness I can 
never forget : he told me it was ' necessary I should pre- 
tend to be ill and go to Bath, and keep Mr. Grattan with 
me, for if he returned he certainly would be put to death! /' 
[The reply was worthy the descendant of a Fitzgerald.] 
On this 1 told Stevenson, that in all my life I never v 
stooped to any meanness or trick, and that certainly I 
should not do so now ; that Mr. Grattan had not implicated 

* Mr. Grogan belonged to one of the oldest and most respectable 
families in the county of Wexford : he was aged upwards of seventy, was 
weak and infirm, when he was forced by the insurgents into their ranks, 
and on pain of death was compelled to act in the capacity of commissary ; 
for this he was taken up, tried, and executed. On the passing of the bill 
of attainder by which his large estates were confiscated, his innocence 
very clearly appeared, and after heavy legal expenses (near 10,000/. 
costs to (Lord Norbury) the attorney-general and the crown officers) 
the landed property was restored to the surviving brother. 

Sir William Crosbie -might also have been mentioned above. ; he 
too, was perfectly innocent of any disloyalty, but was taken when 
Wexford was attacked, — accused by wretched and terrified witnesses. — 
those who came to give evidence in his behalf were forcibly kept 
from the court by the military. The decision of the court martial 
was prompt, partial, and inexorable ; the execution instantaneous. 
Both these unfortunate persons were most foully murdered. — See Lady 
Crosbie's Letter ; that of Mr. Downes (chief justice) ; and the case pub- 
lished by her ladyship. 

t On Mr. Grattan's return to Ireland, he applied to his law agent, 
Mr. Kemmis, the crown solicitor, and directed him to prosecute this 
person. Mr. Kemmis thought he ought to be punished, but advised 
Mr. Grattan not to prosecute, for, he said, if he did, the jury would 
certainly acquit him. 




himself; but that if he had violated the laws of his country, 
he must undergo the consequence. Meantime Mr. Grattan 
was delayed in England, O'Connor's trial not coming on 
as early as he expected ; he went from Maidstone to Lon- 
don,* and amused himself dining with Fox, Sheridan, and 
the Opposition. I shortly afterwards found affairs getting 
worse — I was extremely uncomfortable. Lord Powers- 
court and Mr. (afterwards Lord) Monck, who commanded 
the yeomanry,— the former in particular, — gave orders to 
the corps not to injure the place, or frighten me. These 
orders they did not obey: at night I used to hear the 
sound of footsteps about the house, and I was kept in per- 
petual alarm. At last, one day, when I intended going to 
breakfast with my sister at the Black Rock, our postilion, a 
good and faithful creature, came to inform me that the 
Ancient Britons were to come down that night and sur- 
round the house — that I would be frightened — that some- 
thing disagreeable might happen — and that I had better 
take my children away with me. The French governess, 
however, would not come — she was afraid the Ancient 
Britons would rob the house, and steal all that she had — 
so she was left with M. Mativet, the tutor. That night 
the Ancient Britons accordingly came; they searched the 
place, terrified the servants exceedingly, seized on our 
steward, him very much, and ill-treated him extremely: 
they suspected that he belonged to the United Party, and 
that he used to meet them in the Glen of the Downs at 
night ;f however, they did not kill him, or put him to the 

* A circumstance occurred here, which afforded some amusement to 
Mr. Grattan's friends*. Mr. Lawless (afterwards Lord Cloncurry), who 
had been chairman at a meeting in Dublin that had passed some resolu- 
tions complimentary to Mr. Grattan, was at this time in London, and 
Mr. Grattan paid him a visit ; just at that moment, and to their mutual 
surprise they were both arrested. Mr. Grattan was brought to the 
Privy Council, where, on enquiry, it appeared that Mr. Lawless had 
written to Ireland about O'Coigley, who wanted friends and money for 
his trial. And in mentioning the names of those who subscribed, he 
stated, " Little Harry has put down 50/. This letter falling into the 
hands of Government, they conceived the u Little Harry" meant Mr. 
Grattan. But the mistake was soon cleared up, as the individual in 
question was Mr. Henry of StrafFan, who answered the description in 
name and figure. 

f In a paper laid before Parliament, the list and names of the United 
Irish Committee, for the parish of Powerscourt, happened to be pub- 
lished, but the name of this individual does not appear among them; 
and, probably, it would have been inserted if, as the Ancient Britons 
supposed, he was one of the rebel officers. 


tort,ure e M. Mativet's* life was preserved by an instance 
of kindness not unusual among the lower orders of Irish — 
a poor woman, who used to receive some acts of kindness 
and charity at our house, overheard the soldiers talking 
about the Frenchman, ' and that half an hour's hanging 
would do him no harm ! V and, accordingly, they arranged 
to come to Tinnehinch at night, and seize him for that 
purpose. Luckily she informed him of their intentions, 
and put him on his guard. At first he determined to re- 
main and defend himself — he prepared his pistols and his 
sword, and barricaded his room ; but, as night came on, he 
thought it more prudent to seek some better place of safety, 
though he was very brave ; 'for,' as he said, ' J'en aurois 
tue trois au moins so he took refuge at the house of the 
Serjeant of yeomanry, whom he knew he could depend on. 
He remained there that night, got a pass by his means, 
and the next day came off, as he said, ' bride abattue? to 
the Black Rock. He entered the room where we were, 
covered with dust and heat, and in a state of terror and 
exhaustion, exclaimed, ' Ah ! Madame, Us allaient me pen- 
dre.' Many people were now leaving the country ; my 
residence grew very uncomfortable,-]- and I determined to 
join Mr. Grattan. With difficulty we obtained passports, 
and got to Holyhead, and took up our abode at Llanrwst, 
in North Wales." 

* This person was tutor in Mr. Grattan's family for several years, 
and, as I recollect, his principles were certainly not republican ; but he 
was a Frenchman and a Roman Catholic, and this was sufficient for the 
Ancient Britons and the Orangemen. He was a worthy and a virtuous 
man — moral and religious. On his return to his own country, he was 
elected professor at the College of Soreze, in the south of France ; but 
here he nearly fell a victim to his supposed attachment to Buonaparte, as 
he had at Tinnehinch, being called upon to serve in the army of the 
North. To avoid the Conscription, he had recourse to matrimony, as 
the least evil of the two ; and, though an old man, he married a very 
young wife : thus he fell from Scylla into Charybdis, and never after- 
wards forgot either Buonaparte or the Ancient Britons. 

f An instance of the meaning and process of free-quarters may here 
be given. At Mrs. Bermingham's there were about sixteen children, and 
with the elder branches, amounted to twent)^-four in family ; just as they 
were going to dine one day, a party of military came in, and proceeded 
without ceremony to appropriate to themselves the whole of the dinner. 
The establishment was of necessity thrown into confusion and dismay, 
and would probably have been left to fast for the next twenty-four hours 
if it had not fortunately happened that Mrs. Bermingham's eldest son 
entered at the time. He was in a corps of cavalry, a man of valour, 
courage, and high spirit ; and seeing what the military were engaged 




Llatnwst, 21th June, 1798. 
My dear M'Can; — * • * I got your letter — I don't 
ask about news — every thing looks nielancholv. If any 
new publication comes out worth reading, send it to me. — I 
see advertised a pamphlet of Doctor Duigenan, in answer to 
me — let me have it — direct to Llanrwst, Conway. 

Yours ever, H. Grattan. 


Dear Sir ; — I am sure you will be glad to hear that we 
are all well. Mr. Grattan met us at Holyhead, and we 
have travelled on to this place seeking a lodging or house 
in vain. The country is beautiful, and we all enjoy it — 
it reminds us of Tinnehinch — and we walk much, as the 
weather is uncommonly fine — our abode is at the inn. If I 
had had time I should have seen you before I left Ireland, 
to take my leave — being truly your friend, 

Henrietta Grattan. 

After the proclamation by Government on the 
30th of March, Sir Ralph Abercromby established 
his head-quarters at Kildare; and on the 3rd April 
he issued an order calling on the people to give 
up all their arms within ten days, and unless they 
did so, that troops would be sent among them in 
large bodies, to live at free quarters, and that 
other very severe measures would be used to 
enforce obedience to that notice, and the troops 
were authorized to act without waiting for the 
civil magistrate. These orders, it was said, were 
issued contrary to the real sentiments and the feel- 
ings of Sir Ralph Abercromby, and determined 
him to retire. He accordingly wrote to England, 
praying to be removed from the command of the 
army; and on the 25th of April, General Lake 

in, he very speedily arrested their career, and sent them to the right 
about, and by his interference the house was cleared of these trouble- 
some guests. When such things happened among the high, what must 
not have been the fate of those below ! AtCurran's seat, in the country, 
a number of soldiers came with their wives, many of whom promised to 
lye-in at the Priory, and he was forced to purchase their forbearance at 
no inconsiderable cost. 



[chap. XI. 

was appointed in his stead. The latter had 
acquired in the North more experience in these 
matters, and his proclamation of the year before 
had probably smoothed all scruples. Accord- 
ingly, orders still more extraordinary — more 
cruel — at once the height of wickedness and ab- 
surdity — were now issued ; there is scarcely a 
parallel to them to be found in the history of any 
country. I have looked through the detail of 
Buonaparte's conquest of Italy in 1799, and the 
march of the French republicans, and in none of 
their orders is there to be found a proclamation 
similar to that which was now issued. It is to be 
observed, that this took place on the 7th of May, 
more than three weeks before the insurrection 
broke out in that quarter ; — free quarters were 
not only to be continued, but the number of sol- 
diers was to be doubled, trebled, and quadrupled 
upon the people, and regular foraging parties sent 
out, until all the gentlemen of landed property and the 
collectors of public and church revenues reported that 


paid up ! ! ! It may truly be said of Lord Camden 
and Lord Clare's Government, " quos Deus vult 
per dere prior dementat" This extraordinary docu- 
ment is subjoined,* and well might Sir Ralph 
Abercromby retire in disgust from the service of a 
Government that could act in such a manner. 

* " Whereas, it has been reported to Lieutenant-General Sir James Stuart, 
that in some parts of the county, where it has been necessary to place 
troops at free quartern for the restoration of public tranquillity, that 
general subscriptions of money have been entered into by the inha- 
bitants, to purchase provisions for the troops, by which means the end 
proposed of making the burthen fall as much as possible on the guilty, 
is entirely defeated, by making it fall in a light proportion on the whole; 
and thereby easing and protecting the guilty. It has been thought 
proper to direct, that, whenever the practice has been adopted, or shall 
be attempted, the general officers commanding divisions of the southern 
district, shall immediately double, triple, and quadruple, the number of 
soldiers so stationed-, and shall send out regular foraging parties, to provide 
provisions for the troops, in the quantities mentioned in the former 


The vacancies in the Leinster provincial com- 
mittee, which had been occasioned by the arrests on 
the 12th of March, were speedily filled up ; and the 
United party, irritated at the capture of so many 
of their friends, and disappointed in the expecta- 
tion of foreign succour, grew impatient of any 
further delay, and forthwith urged that a precise 
time should be fixed on which the general rising- 
should take place. Lord Edward Fitzgerald had 
remained concealed near Dublin : Government 
issued a large reward for his apprehension ; but 
though he visited the city, and often exposed 
himself injudiciously, yet he eluded pursuit, and 
on more than one occasion had very singular and 
narrow escapes, for which he was sometimes in- 
debted to the fidelity of females, who, in these 
and other instances during the insurrection, dis- 
played a degree of feeling and of principle, as well 
as a miraculous taciturnity, which did honour to 
the sex. 

At length the 23rd of May approached, which 
was the appointed time when the insurrection was 
openly to break out. Lord Edward came to the 
metropolis a few days previous, for the purpose of 
giving directions and making the necessary arrange- 
ments. So great was the fool-hardiness of some of 
his friends, that his military cap and green uniform 
were brought during day by a female, and delivered 
at the house where he lay concealed. He had been 
frequently visited by Neilson, who very incau- 
tiously used to ride in open day to the place 
of his retreat in the suburbs, heedless of discovery, 
and apparently forgetting that so remarkable a 

notice, bearing date the 27th day of April, 1798 ; and that they shall 
move them from station to station, through the district or barony, until all 
arms are surrendered and tranquillity be perfectly restored, and until it is 
reported to the general officers, by the gentlemen holding landed property, 
and those who are employed in collecting the public revenues and tithes, 


Adjutant-General's Office, Cork, May 7, 1798. 



[chap. XI. 

person both in manner and figure would have been 
closely watched. At the period of Lord Edward's 
last arrival in Dublin, he again visited him at the 
house in Thomas-street, where he still lay secreted, 
and which belonged to a person named Murphy, 
a leather-merchant. On the 19th of May, just 
after dinner, and immediately on Neilson getting 
up from table and leaving* the house, the officers 
of justice entered. Lord Edward having gone from 
the parlour, had retired up stairs to his room, 
and was lying on his bed with his coat off, when 
Major Swan and Captain llyan came in. He 
started up at once, and rushing furiously on them, 
engaged in a desperate conflict. With a dag- 
ger he wounded them both severely, the latter 
mortally. He too suffered in the struggle, but 
was not overpowered, until Major Sirr coming up, 
fired from behind the door, hit Lord Edward in 
the shoulder, and disabled him. The military 
then rushed in, and interposing their muskets, 
prevented all further resistance, when a merciless 
drum-boy cut him on the neck with a sword. He 
was taken to the Castle, and thence removed to 
Newgate. The papers found upon him marked 
out the line of advance from the county of Kildare 
upon Dublin, and showed that the rising which 
had been apprehended was close at hand. Lord 
Edward lingered under the effects of his wounds 
till the 3rd of June, when he expired. 

It is painful to be obliged to say, that Govern- 
ment acted towards this unfortunate individual 
not only with superfluous severity, but even with 
a strange degree of cruelty : he was debarred 

* Neilson appears quite exonerated from the suspicion of having been 
concerned in the discovery of Lord Edward Fitzgerald's retreat. Mr. 
Moore's letter, and that of A. H. Rowan, in his Biography, together 
with the remark of the editor of the latter work, are conclusive on the 
subject. Neilson, though imprudent, was not dishonourable. — Moore's 
Life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, vol. ii. p. 87 ; and Autobiography of 
H. Rowan, p. 434-437. 

chap, xi.] lord camden's severity to him. 387 

from the visits of his friends, — was closely guarded 
even by common soldiers standing at his bed- 
side, and his nearest relations were refused ad- 
mittance. Lord Camden displayed an unneces- 
sary want of kindness, and almost of humane 
feeling, both towards him and his connexions. 
As executive magistrate, he permitted one of the 
United party (Clinch) to be executed close to the 
apartment in the jail where Lord Edward lay. 
The preparations for this man's death, which 
were distinctly heard by Lord Edward, threw 
him into a state of delirium, and for some time he 
was quite deranged. Lord Henry Fitzgerald came 
from England, and applied for leave to see his 
dying brother, but in vain. Lady Louisa Conolly 
(his aunt) also solicited Lord Camden, but without 
effect. Various and futile objections were made: — 
that a Privy Council must be summoned, — that 
an order must be procured from them, and that 
it was out of his power to accede to the request. 
Lady Louisa in vain implored him, and stated that 
while they were talking, her nephew might ex- 
pire ; at last she threw herself on her knees, and 
in a flood of tears, supplicated at his feet, and 
prayed that he would relent ; but Lord Camden 
remained inexorable. Failing to move him, she 
went to the Chancellor, and here Lord Clare 
showed that he possessed a heart not quite devoid 
of every feeling of humanity. He at once said to 
her he could not grant any such permission, but that 
he would go in person. He hurried into her car- 
riage, drove to the prison, and introduced her to 
Lord Edward's room. The unhappy man was 
then dying.* Lord Clare stood apart, while Lady 

* After his death, a bill to attaint him and confiscate his property was 
introduced into Parliament and passed. Mr. Curran pleaded very ably 
against it in the House of Lords. The property was not considerable, 
and was subsequently allowed by the Crown to be re-purchased, in order 
that it might descend to the son. The act of attainder was reversed in 
1819 by the Impeml Parliament — George the Fourth being Regent. 

cc 2 



[chap. XI. 

Louisa knelt and wept. What must have been the 
feelings of Lord Clare at this painful moment? 
How trying — how torturing the sight! thus forced 
to behold so afflicting a spectacle — the result in 
a great degree, of his own maladministration ! 
Expiring on the prison-couch, lay the descendant 
of one of the first families of Ireland — the noble 
and unfortunate victim whom a wicked policy, and 
crooked councils had thus hurried to a premature 
and inglorious grave ! Close at his side knelt that 
exalted and lofty-minded virtuous lady who with 
such difficulty had procured this heart-rending in- 
dulgence, — closing with her own hand, his fading- 
eye, and in broken accents addressing his de- 
caying senses with that lingering, everlasting 
sweet farewell — 

" Oh, just beheld and lost, — admired and mourned, 
With gentlest manners, fairest arts adorned." 

Let this melancholy story be a lesson to the de- 
scendants of those who have so long misgoverned 
Ireland, and teach them to avoid the example of 
their ancestors, and not endanger the safety of 
the empire by future misrule : they may then 
hope to receive the blessings instead of the exe- 
crations of posterity. 

It is a satisfaction to be enabled to give this anec- 
dote, which does credit to Lord Clare — its recital 
is due to him ; it is also due to justice. Lord Henry 
Fitzgerald, afterwards complained bitterly of the 
conduct of the Irish Government, and when he 
had hurried from the melancholy scene, and was 
beyond their jurisdiction, he wrote from Holyhead 
a letter of severe reproach to Lord Camden. Mr. 
Moore, in the Life of Lord Edward, suppresses the 
strong passages, but their insertion would have been 

The grounds for this measure, as stated by Lord Liverpool, were remark- 
able, not as a consequence of Royal clemency, but of the injustice of the 
case. There had been no trial ; and the act not having passed till after 
the death of the party, the attainder could not have been regularly issued. 
The Duke of Wellington took that occasion to bear testimony to the brave, 
honourable, and excellent conduct of the son, who served under him in 
the Peninsular war. 




well merited by the person to whom they so justly 
applied. So strong was the feeling entertained by 
that family against Lord Camden, that I well re- 
member, many years subsequent, when a relation 
of mine was in London in company with one 
of their connexions, the latter turned away as 
Lord Camden approached to accost them, so in- 
dignant did the party feel at his conduct. 

On the 22nd of May, Lord Castlereagh com- 
municated to the House of Commons a message 
from Lord Camden, informing them that prepa- 
rations were made by the disaffected party to 
attack the Metropolis, and that he had placed it 
under military law. Mr. John Claudius Beresford 
recommended that if any rebels were found with 
arms in their hands, they should be tried by a 
military tribunal, and hanged at once. 

On the 25th, the Lord-lieutenant issued a pro- 
clamation, placing the kingdom under martial 
law, and directing the military to punish with 
death, or otherwise, all persons acting or assisting 
in any manner in the rebellion. On this occasion 
Col. Maxwell (afterwards Lord Farnham) stated 
" that as the principal leaders of the rebellion 
were in prison, the military code should have a in- 
trospect to them — that they should be immediately 
tried under that code, and disposed of as expedi- 
tiously as possible; — that the bill introduced by 
the Attorney-general (Toler), to bring these men 
to a speedy trial, had yet to pass the tedious pro- 
cess of receiving the royal assent ; this might take 
a fortnight or more ; he therefore proposed to try 
those persons in prison by the military code, and 
dispose of them at once"* 

* The effects produced on the human mind by the horrifying scenes 
that civil war gives rise to, are often singular, and would puzzle the 
ablest mental anatomist to explain. Who would have thought that this 
individual would subsequently become a very grave and religious per- 
sonage ? He belonged to a class known by the name of the " Xeiv Re- 



[chap. XI. 

Such are the extremes into which, in times of 
civil commotion, men suffer themselves to be hur- 
ried ! it is then only that they are tried, and that 
they show their disposition — too often appearing 
very different from what they really are ; but 
these sanguinary sentiments, delivered in the 
senate, were the natural and necessary result of 
the system that had been introduced by its rulers. 
The mind grew habituated to torture out-of-doors, 
and the ear became familiarized to what the eye 
beheld ; and hence, cruelty was not merely prac- 
tised, but recommended. Another very remark- 
able case which occurred was that of the Arch- 
bishop of Dublin (Agar). A question arose in the 
Privy Council respecting these state-prisoners, — 
whether they should be executed or transported ? 
The majority decided on the latter course ; but 
one of the impediments to this was the Arch- 
bishop, whom the Council found very difficult to 
bring over to the side of mercy, for he insisted on 
having them all put to death. Feelings of this 
description are not peculiar to that Archbishop 
alone — for, unfortunately, it may be observed, 
that clergymen, when they become politicians, 
are by far the most violent; and theirs is the worst 
species of rage, for their profession protects 
them, and they can indulge their passions without 
fear, as they are out of the way of danger. 

formation." Adverse to the religious opinions of the people, he sought 
to correct them to what in his conscience he believed to be the True 
Faith. His imagination was overheated, his understanding bewildered; 
— both perhaps occasioned by the violent proceedings that occurred 
at this period. 

Another case of penitence I have heard related by Colonel Thompson, 
whose son was at that time in an English regiment in Ireland. , Some 
prisoners, "rebels" he said, " as they chose to call them" were taken and 
hung on the arms of a windmill. On turning round the mill, one appeared 
loosely put up, when the military called out to him to sing God save the 
King! This so shocked the young soldier, that he could never divest his 
mind of the painful recollection, and he was so haunted by it, that he 
left the army, turned methodist, and assigned as a cause, this revolting 


Colonel Maxwell's proposition was not generally- 
approved of, and even Lord Castlereagh here 
interposed, and "implored that his administration 
might not be branded with the imputation of 
cruelty ; and he besought gentlemen not to press a 
general and indiscriminate system of unnecessary 
vengeance //" 

The progress from bloodshed to rapine is natu- 
ral, customary, and almost instantaneous ; — it was 
found so in Ireland before — it was attempted here 
again. Hence, in a few weeks after the first sug- 
gestion of Mr. John Claudius Beresford, he very 
gravely rose to submit another, and moved to 
bring in a bill to confiscate the property of persons 
convicted of high treason by courts martial. Mr. 
Isaac Corry said he wished to extend the object, 
and apply it to persons who held leasehold in- 
terests as well as estates in fee. This savoured 
rather too much of olden times, and it seemed inju- 
dicious to revive this short and ancient method of 
acquiring property in Ireland. Accordingly, Lord 
Castlereagh once more interfered, and conjured 
Mr. Beresford not to urge such a measure, as it 
would be time enough when called for by neces- 

Thus the proposal of extermination as well as 
confiscation was abandoned ; but when sentiments 
such as these could be uttered in Parliament, how 
could it be expected that a licentious soldiery 
should act in any other but in the most cruel 
manner?* Prior indeed to the outbreak on the 

* The following appeared in the Dublin papers: — "A number of 
inhabitants, many of them very decent persons, were taken up yesterday 
(the 21st of May) on information or suspicion of being United Irishmen. 
Several, against whom strong informations were received, underwent 
whipping to extort confession: in some instances we learn this was 
attended with the desired effect 14" 

A dispatch from a military officer to the government, from Naas, on 
the 24th of May, states, "that three men with green cockades were 
brought in yesterday, all of whom were hanged in the public streets!" 



23rd of May, the military in the county of Kildare 
had proceeded to carry into execution, in the 
severest way, the orders of the Generals, by burn- 
ing the peasants' houses in order to procure arms. 
Thus the innocent and the guilty were confounded 
together, and on the 21st of May parts of the vil- 
lages of Maynooth, Kilcock, and Celbridge, were 
consumed. A Scotch regiment was on free quar- 
ters in the latter, and threatened every day to 
burn the entire place. This conduct is described 
by an eye-witness; and in Moore's Life* of Lord 
Edward Fitzgerald will be found the letters of 
Lady Louisa Conolly, who then resided at Castle- 
town, close to Celbridge ; and in giving the melan- 
choly detail, she states, e< The peasants say they 
may as well die with a pike in their hands as be shot 
at their work in the fields /" 

These calamities were not peculiar to the county 
of Kildare, and a relation of mine who resided in 
the county of Wicklow, (John Blachford,* of 
Altadore,) who was then in the yeomanry, assured 
me that on going out one morning from Lord 
Powerscourt's, where they were stationed, he saw 
the houses of the peasantry burning in all direc- 
tions ; and in a circuit of eight miles from thence, 
towards the village of Roundwood, not a human 
being was to be seen ; he found some countrymen 
shot, and he asked the yeomen why they were killed . 
The yeomen could assign no reason, but that they 
had set their houses on fire, and shot them as they 
were running away ! On one occasion, the yeomen 
had shot two of the country people, and three 
men of his corps had ill-used an unfortunate 
female in the neighbourhood ; upon which he com- 

* Vol.ii. p. 95-100. 

f Brother to Mrs. Henry Tighe, authoress of Pysche and other 
beautiful poems. He was one of the best of the Irish country gentle- 
men; he was an independent, a humane, and public-spirited character, 
possessed an accomplished mind, and a classical taste. 


plained, in very strong terms, to the captain, and 
insisted on having the offenders made examples of, 
and punished as they deserved ; but the reply he 
got was remarkable : — M The crime is great ; but 
consider the ti??ies, my dear sir ; — it icould be dan- 
gerous to punish the yeomanry /" This was the 
error throughout. However, a remarkable opinion, 
very different from this, and worthy of being re- 
corded, was given shortly after by high and un- 
questionable authority, — the gallant and ever-to- 
be-lamented General Sir John Moore.* He was 
at this period serving in Ireland, and in the report 
which he then gave to the Lord Lieutenant on the 
county of Wicklow, and on the quiet state to 
which he had brought it towards the end of the 
year, adds, " That the presence of troops may be 
necessary for some time longer, but it would be 
more to check the yeomanry and the Protestants 
than the people." 

The insurrection broke out on the 23d of May,f 
at Kildare, on the 25th at Carlow, on the 26th at 
Wexford, and on the 29th in the North, in the 
county of Down; and it may be said to have been 
suppressed about the end of June, when Govern- 
ment issued a proclamation of pardon. It is to be 
observed that the West, the province of Connaught, 
remained comparatively tranquil. In the North, the 
insurgents did not come forward with the activity 
that it might be supposed they would have done, 
when it is considered they had originated and ex- 

* Such effect did these scenes produce on the mind of Sir John 
Moore, that in a conversation he had upon the subject with Mr. 
Grattan, he said, " If I were an Irishman, I should be a rebel." 

t Lord Castlereagh thought very lightly of the disturbances in the 
South ; but when those in the North broke out, he sent for his private 
secretary, (Mr. Knox) and told him " that heavy business would come on, — 
that as his health was delicate, he might suffer in consequence, and that 
he was at liberty to leave him/' Mr. Knox did so ; the fact was, 
that he was a humane and merciful man, quite averse to the system 
pursued by the Government. He resided afterwards for a long time at 
Mr. Peter La Touche's, at Bellvue, in the county of Wicklow. 


tended this insurrection. Numbers had been dis- 
armed, several had been arrested, and others, now 
finding that a good deal of religious prejudice was 
prevalent among the insurgents in the South, were 
disinclined to the cause, and relaxed their efforts; 
and after two inconsiderable actions on the 9th 
and 15th of June, at Saintfield and Ballynahinch,* 
they withdrew from the struggle, and left to their 
fate the insurgents of the South, whom they had 
inveigled, and whom Tone and Neilson stated they 
had reluctantly induced to join the Confederation. 
The principal actions were those of Prosperous and 
Kilcullen, in the county of Kildare ; Hackettstown, 
Arklow, in the county of Wicklow ; Gorey, New 
Ross, Vinegar Hill, in the county of Wexford ; 
the storming of Enniscorthy ; the capture of the 
town of Wexford ; and the action at Tara Hill, in 
the county of Meath. Wexford was the only 
place where the insurgents had a temporary suc- 
cess, and the town remained in their possession for 
a considerable time. At Carlow and New Ross 
they were unsuccessful, and at Vinegar Hill they 
were defeated with very great loss. There were 
several inconsiderable battles, but few regular 
engagements. The insurgents fought in general 
bravely, but without concert or discipline, or any 
systematic plan of operations. They had no prac- 
tised generals, and on neither side was any mili- 
tary skill or tactics displayed, Among the insur- 

* General Nugent commanded the troops in the North, and in the 
month of June he issued a proclamation calling upon the insurgents to 
lay down their arms, which he concludes in the following sanguinary 
and savage manner : — " Should the above injunctions not be complied 
with, Major-General Nugent will proceed lo set fire to and totally destroy 
the town of Killaleagh, Ballynahinch, Saintfield, Killinchy, and every 
cottage and farm-house in the vicinity of these places, and put every one to 
the sword who may be found in arms : it behoves all well-affected 
persons to exert themselves to have these terms complied with, as it is 
the only opportunity there will be of rescuing themselves and properties 
from the indiscriminate vengeance of an armif necessarily let loose upon 
them: 1 



gents there were numerous cases of individual 
valour and devoted courage. The persons of dis- 
tinction who fell on the side of the loyalists were 
Colonel Walpole and Lord Mountjoy ; — the former 
lost his life through his own imprudence and want 
of military skill. The official reports announced the 
numbers slain : * at Tara there were 400; at Ross, 
130; at Stratford on Slany, 200; Kilcullen, 130, 
no prisoners ; Hackettstown, 500; Dunlavin, 300. 
The proceedings at Wexford were sanguinary and 
barbarous ; in that county, however, the contest 
was best maintained, owing, in some degree, to 
the knowledge of fire-arms and a peculiarly long- 
gun which the peasantry used in their sporting 

Although the operations of the insurgents were 
desultory, and their plans ill-arranged, it so hap- 
pened that the city of Dublin was nearly surprised 
and taken by them, and their project was disco- 
vered and baffled in the following singular and 
fortuitous manner : — Two of the chiefs had rode 
early one morning to a respectable and wealthy 
farmer in the county of Wexford, in order to 
induce him to join them. During their conversa- 
tion they disclosed their plan of advance along the 
coast to Dublin ; except at Arklow, there was 
scarce any stronghold on the line ; the waylay open 
along the sea, and the march upon Dublin would 
have been easily accomplished, as the military 
were mostly in a distant part of the country, and 
the insurgent force coming from Wexford ex- 
ceeded 30,000 men. The brother of the person 
from whom 1 got the anecdote, happening to be 
present, concealed himself in the farmer's house, 
through fear of detection, and overheard the con- 

* It is not easy to ascertain the numbers that perished. Some writers 
state the loss during these civil commotions at 20,000 on the Government 
side, and 50,000 on that of the people. Many were killed who were 
not insurgents. 




versation. On the departure of the chiefs and 
their party, he wrote out a statement of the occur- 
rence, secured it inside his shoe, and proceeded 
with every expedition across the country, till he 
delivered it to the next military commander. 
Upon the receipt of this intelligence in Dublin, 
every possible exertion was made, and every sort 
of soldier on every sort of vehicle was dispatched 
from the metropolis. The battle of Arklow, how- 
ever, arrested the progress of the insurgents, and 
probably saved the city. 

On the return of the military from this expedi- 
tion, part of them passed Tinnehinch, and halted 
on the bridge in front of the house. Some of the 
party proposed to destroy it; the cannon was 
planted, and they debated whether the house 
should be blown down ; however, they first put it 
to the vote, and fortunately the majority was 
against the measure, so the artillery was ordered 
to pass on. The officer who commanded it, and 
who related the anecdote, very candidly admitted 
that* he had voted for the proposal. 

In times of such commotion, generous as well 
as ignoble actions are to be found on both sides ; 
but it were natural to expect that the former class 
would have been practised and recommended by 
the loyalist party, who were better educated and 
better informed than their opponents, and more 
capable, therefore, of keeping their passions under 
control, and able to show a better example. 
There were some fine traits of character displayed 
by the insurgents, that are worthy of being men- 
tioned ; and among others, by the two Wicklow 

* Several years afterwards this individual waited upon Mr. Grattan 
with an address of congratulation on his escape at an 'election riot that 
occurred in Dublin, where he had received some slight injury. So very- 
easy it has been in all times in Ireland for Government to halloo one 
man and one party against the other, and so much more wise it is to 
effect their reconciliation. 


chieftains, Holt and Dwyer. The former had made 
prisoners on one occasion of some soldiers and 
their wives ; he spared their lives, protected their 
persons, and sent them safe back to their quar- 
ters. On another occasion some of his men 
strongly pressed him to plunder a house in the 
vicinity where they lay encamped ; Holt not 
only refused, but prevented others from at- 
tempting it;* his words were remarkable: — 
" I have been driven," said he, " into this busi- 
ness ; my house was burned, and my property 
destroyed — I may be a rebel, but will never be a 
robber!" Dwyer was a handsome, intelligent 
man, and a person of considerable influence among 
the peasantry ; his men having committed some 
devastation on the woods of a gentleman near 
Wicklow, Dwyer sent to him requesting an inter- 
view ; when they met, this person addressed 
Dwyer, saying, "I suppose you want me to inter- 
cede for you with Government. I'll do all I can 
for you, as I find you have not been sanguinary." 
Dwyer said, " Xo ! — if I were to get a crown of 
gold, I would not supplicate for pardon; but I wisii 
to let you know, that the depredations that my 
men committed on your property were without 
my knowledge, and shall not occur again." Some 
time after, they were renewed, when Dwyer seized 
the men that committed them, sent them off to 
Government, and they were immediately hanged. 
Mr. Peter Burrowes was the prosecuting counsel 
against him, and in addition to these anecdotes, 
he stated, that when Dwyer was tried, such was the 
respect entertained for him, that a soldier walked 
all the way from Cork to Wicklow in order to give 
evidence in his favour. It appeared that some of 

* Holt surrendered himself to Lord Powerscourt ; through the interest 
of Mrs. La Touche he was kindly treated and was banished to New 
South Wales. After many years' absence he returned to Ireland, and 
set up in business at Kingstown, near Dublin, where he died. His 
Memoirs are not without some degree of interest. 


Dwyer's party were going to kill one of his com- 
panions, when Dwyer rushed up with his sword 
drawn, drove back his men, and saved the sol- 
dier's life. These traits of humanity preserved 
him : he was sentenced to transportation, but he 
died on board, previous to the departure of the 

When such noble traits as these are found 
among the undisciplined, the unlettered, and the 
middling class of men, how great must be the shame 
and indignation with which we read the wicked 
acts of the Government, and of those in authority 
under them ? 

Mr. Peter Burrowes,* who was well acquainted 
with the events of this period, often related 
the following circumstance. He was profes- 
sionally called on to advise an action against 
Judkin Fitzgerald, High Sheriff of the county of 
Tipperary ; he prepared the legal proceedings, 
and staled that Fitzgerald had ordered a gentle- 
man of that county to bring him 1000/., and 
unless it was forthcoming on a certain day, that he 
would be flogged. The man was obliged to pro- 
cure the money, and thus avoided the threatened 
punishment. Fitzgerald was then called on to 
repay him ; but not finding this very easy, he 
applied to Lord Castlereagh. The sum was then 
set down as a charge for arms, or accoutrements, 
(something which Mr. Burrowes said was wholly 
ludicrous,) and to his knowledge, the 1000/. was 
actually repaid by the Government. Part only of 

* Mr. Burrowes' humanity and spirit exposed him on one occasion 
to some danger. Passing Stephen's Green, not far from the house of 
Lord Clare, he was attracted by cries proceeding from a quarter adja- 
cent; he there saw an officer (brother of Arthur O'Connor) presiding 
over the flogging of two men. Burrowes remonstrated with him, and 
upbraided him severely. The soldiers were angry, passed round Bur- 
rowes, and began to threaten him : he was in uniform and armed, and re- 
mained firm, and succeeded. At length O'Connor, who had been reading 
some papers, exclaimed — " I have been deceived — the men are in- 
nocent ; take that old villain the informer, and put him in their place! !" 

chap, xi.] sheridan's motion for inquiry. 399 

this case was on record ; but that of Wright 
against Fitzgerald, in which the former recovered 
damages against the sheriff for flogging him, will 
ever remain in proof to show the character of 
those who were encouraged and protected by the 
Government. Wright was a French teacher, and 
a note written in that language, which the loyalist 
did not comprehends was the cause of this savage 
punishment being inflicted on him. 

Pending these great calamities that desolated 
and laid waste the country, not physically merely, 
but morally, the friends of Ireland in the British 
Parliament were not silent nor insensible, and, far 
from forgetting their duty, they brought forward 
once more her deplorable state; and on the 14th 
of June, Mr. Sheridan moved for an inquiry into 
the causes of the insurrection in Ireland ; but it 
was rejected by a great majority — 199 to 43 ; and 
the address* to His Majesty upon the subject, 

* "That an humble address be presented to his Majesty, to submit our 
opinion to his Majesty, that the deplorable state of Ireland calls for an 
immediate and total change of councils and measures in that kingdom: 
that if the system of coercion, enforced in the manner it has been, 
should succeed to the full extent of the most sanguine expectations of 
those who have advised it, the conquest of a desert is all that can be 
obtained by it; and that Ireland, so reduced, and so desolated, can no 
way be preserved but by a continued waste of the wealth and strength 
of Great Britain, for which no other return from that country can be 
rationally expected but implacable hatred, waiting for revenge. That if 
these measures fail, the possibility of which no wise government would 
leave out of its calculation, Ireland will not merely be lost, but may 
become an accession to the power of France, and England be exposed 
to the issue of a contest, on English ground, not for acquisition or 
dominion, but probably for existence. 

"We should fail in the duty we have undertaken, if we did not, at the 
same time, express to your Majesty our absolute conviction, that no 
change of system in Ireland would be effectual to its purposes, without 
a removal of those persons whose councils have produced the present 
calamities, and who cannot in reason be considered as capable of cor- 
recting their own errors, or of attempting it with sincerity ; and whose 
past conduct, both in practice and profession, renders it impossible for 
them, even were they to act on a sincere conviction of past error, to 
raise an expectation in Ireland of such a Government, on temperate 
principles, as might dispose the people to submit to the regular and 
indispensable restraints of justice administered according to law, or 


which he likewise proposed, was also negatived. 
The Duke of Leinster moved an address some- 
what similar in the Lords ; and, as if the members 
were afraid that the report of the conduct of Mr. 
Pitt and the Irish Government should obtain 
publicity, Lord Sydney cleared the house, and 
declared that if any person presumed to publish 
an account of their proceedings, he hoped the 
House would punish him in the severest manner. 
The motion was rejected by 51 to 18. 

In the month of June, Lord Cornwallis came to 
Ireland as successor to Lord Camden. The latter 
had prepared the way for the projects of the for- 
mer ; — he came to finish what the other began — 
he came to carry the Union, — he came on a mis- 
sion which no man of honour should have under- 
taken—no man of character attempted, — to de- 
stroy the constitution of a free country. He strove 
to be impartial, to protect the Catholics, and to 
restrain* the Orangemen ; but the former did not 
trust, and the latter did not like him. 

On the 17th of July, Lord Castlereagh deli- 
vered to Parliament a message from His Majesty, 
expressing his desire to exercise his prerogative of 
mercy, and pass an Amnesty bill, which shortly 
after was carried into effect. The leading persons 
concerned in the insurrection thought it was now 
advisable to make the best terms they could with 
the Government. It appears that they wished to 
save the lives of two of their party — Oliver Bond 

even to accept of concessions without distrust, or of benefits with 

"Nothing, in our opinion, but a total change of men, as well as mea- 
sures, can prevent the otherwise certain alienation, and more than pos- 
sible separation of that country from Great Britain." 

* In the case of Woolaghan, where an unfortunate peasant boy was 
shot almost in the arms of his mother, he directed that the President of 
the court-martial before whom the yeoman was tried and acquitted, 
should never in future be allowed to sit on- another, and most severely 
condemned such wicked proceedings. 



and W. J. Byrne. Accordingly, Mr. Dobbs, a 
member of Parliament, a man of a singular turn 
of mind, but of a kindly disposition, undertook to 
intercede on their behalf. He procured a written 
paper, signed by seventy of the state prisoners, 
declaring that they would give all the information 
in their power respecting the proceedings of the 
United Irishmen, — that they would consent to 
emigrate to some foreign country (as should be 
agreed on by Government) not at war with Great 
Britain, and give security not to return. Bond 
and Byrne were to have the benefit of this ar- 
rangement,* though under sentence of death ; the 
latter, however, was executed, the former died 
suddenly in prison. After much delay, evasion, 
and recrimination, the arrangement was effected, 
and a detailed memoire of the origin and progress 
of the insurrection was given to Government, 
signed by Emmett, O'Connor, and M'Nevin. 
However, the Government subsequently put upon 
the agreement an interpretation very different 
from that of the prisoners, and contended that 
they should not be liberated during the war; and 
they were ultimately sent to Fort George, f where 
they remained for a great length of time. 

This arrangement had just been effected, and 
the disturbances had begun to subside, when a 
part of the succour from France arrived. About 
one thousand men, commanded by General Hum- 
bert, escaping the vigilance of the British fleets, 
landed in the month of August in Killala Bay. They 
captured the town, taking prisoners the bishop and 

* Arthur O'Connor's Letter to Lord Castlereagh from prison, Jan. 4, 

f On the 18th of March, 1799, the King issued a proclamation, 
stating, that persons engaged in the treasonable conspiracy in Ireland 
had not abandoned their designs, and that no one should pass from 
Ireland to Great Britain without a passport from the authorities. He 
communicated this to the British Parliament, and also sent a message, 
stating, that in consequence of the representations of the Lord-lieutenant, 



his family, defeated the Royal troops under General 
Lake and Lord Hutchinson, took all their artillery, 
and fearlessly advanced towards the metropolis. 
Upon this, Lord Cornwallis assumed the com- 
mand of the army, and with 20,000 men marched 
in person against the French, who, though muster- 
ing not more than 900 men, had already proceeded 
almost to the centre of the kingdom. They met 
at Ballynahinch ; an action there took place, after 
which they surrendered themselves prisoners of 
war. Some of the peasantry and some of the 
militia had joined them, but not in any very great 

Thus ended an abortive insurrection and a 
posthumous invasion, both of which ruined the 

Mr. Grattan had retired to England, but was not 
allowed to remain there in tranquillity. Dr. Duige- 
nan published a pamphlet, in which he inveighed 
against him. It was rather a long satire, comprising 
200 pages : it attacked the Catholics, contained 
great abuse of Ireland, and adulation of England. 
It had been sent to London for publication the year 
before (1797), but the printer prudently returned 
it, and at length it made its appearance. Mr. 
Grattan, upon this, came back to Dublin ; he 
sought for Doctor Duigenan, but in vain ; and now 
he found party spirit raged so very fiercely against 
him, that even his appearing in the streets was a 
matter of danger, and a confidential friend advised 
him to be on his guard, and get some one to 
accompany him. This he found not very easy 
to do ; and such was the mutability of fortune, that 
the man who had assisted in giving liberty to his 
country, and from a province raised her to a nation, 

he had directed that the persons in custody in Dublin and Belfast should 
be removed to Great Britain, and confined in Fort George. 

It is to be observed, that of all these prisoners, only three were 
Roman Catholics, the rest were Protestants or Presbyterians. — See Ap- 
pendix, No. 6. 



promoting her trade and constitution, was left 
with scarcely a supporter, and even walked at some 
risk in the streets of his native city. He went to 
Curran ; but Curran said he was such an object of 
dislike to Government, and so marked a man, 
that it would be better for him not to take any 
further part, and accordingly left Mr. Grattan at 
his house in Ely-place, and retired to his residence 
at Rathfarnam. His early friend (Mr. Cuffe, 
afterwards Lord Tyrawly) was applied to, but he 
was connected with Government; he held a place 
under them, and when he found that Mr. Grattan 
resolved to meet Duigenan, he said he could no 
longer stay with him. However, one honest, 
faithful, and fearless friend, appeared ; this was 
Mr. Richard Grace, a gentlemen of the Queen's 
County, who had been in the Irish Parliament, 
was educated for the bar, a man of great courage, 
and warmly attached to Mr. Grattan. To him 
Mr. M'Can applied; and when he heard of Mr. 
Grattan's arrival, and how he was situated, he 
lost not a moment, but at once sallied forth to 
meet him. He offered his services, and expressed 
his willingness to accompany Mr. Grattan where- 
ever he pleased. Accordingly, they walked toge- 
ther three or four days, but no where could they 
meet with Doctor Duigenan. Mr. Grattan was 
then advised to write to him, and if he could get 
neither a reply nor a meeting, to take no farther 
notice of the learned Doctor. Accordingly, the 
following letter was delivered : — 


Dublin, 7th August, 1798. 
Mr. Grattan has seen a very gross, a very unprovoked, 
and a very ludicrous performance, written against him, and 
signed " Patrick Duigenan." Mr. Grattan does not explain 
his conduct to individuals ; the statute book and the Jour- 
nals of the House of Commons are open. Were he to 
make his public conduct a subject of explanation, it would 
D D 2 



not be to such a person as Doctor Duigenan ; but as the 
above mentioned attack mixes in its folly much personal 
rudeness, Mr. Grattan judges it not wholy beneath him to 
take some sort of notice of it; and he is very sorry to be 
forced to observe, that the author has departed from the 
manners and language of a gentleman, and has thought 
proper to adopt a strain so false, so vile, and so disgusting, 
as to render Dr. Duigenan a public buffoon, too low and 
ludicrous to give an affront or make an apology. 

P,S. Mr. Grattan remains in Dublin for three days, and 
is to be heard of at Kearns's Hotel, Kildare-street. 

No answer whatever being sent to this, Mr. 
Grattan determined on returning to England ; but 
he wished once again to visit Tinnehinch ; and 
though unwell and suffering much from a severe 
nervous complaint, he left Dublin very early, on 
foot and unaccompanied ; but here again he was 
destined to meet with some danger. The news of 
his arrival quickly circulated. As he was sitting 
in the parlour, two cavalry soldiers rode up to the 
door with drawn sabres, knocked somewhat 
roughly, and calling for the servant in a rude and 
violent manner, desired him to send out Mr. Grattan 
to them. The servant was somewhat alarmed, and 
having brought in the message, Mr. Grattan laid 
a case of pistols on the table, and sent his reply 
" to beg the gentlemen would walk in." This an- 
swer having been delivered, and perhaps some 
friendly intimation from the servant of what might 
be expected, the soldiers departed. Mr. Grattan 
then returned to England, but here a greater an- 
noyance awaited him. 


London, 19th Sept., 1798. 
Doctor Berwick ; — So far we have advanced — qui 
bene incipit. I could have wished you had employed me on 
a commission to purchase for you books of divinity in Lon- 
don. You cannot conceive what bargains I could have 
gotten at every stall, at the corner of every street — Fathers 
of the Church — Sermons — controversial Theology — almost 
for nothing — Dr. Clarke himself, and his Attributes. I 



cannot conceive books of such immense value and size can 
be so cheap — you can resolve me — I dare say some of 
Doctor O'Beirne's* Charges to the Clergy may have 
taken their stations there. Is there any Act of Par- 
liament to punish a clergyman who buries a labourer 
that has been shot ? — I am glad we are at ease about the 
French — I can't say I had even the most distant idea that 
they would have any consequence, save that of momentary 
alarm. Nine hundred men, (Hardy says, and says with 
that scorn which becomes the fattest subject his Majesty 
has,) — lean miserable men — could not overthrow a Govern- 
ment supported by a military establishmsnt of 100,000. 
Lord Carhampton could have sent them all aboard a ten- 
der, in the capacity of a justice of peace, without terrifying 
them in his military capacity of Lieutenant-General. I 
believe he has sent as many, and his conquests have been 
extended to as great a number — conquests, too, completed in 
his own person, and in his own room. However, Lord 
Cornwallis seems to have acted with great propriety and 
discretion, and left nothing to accident, or to the possible 
errors of his officers : his proclamation of pardon afterwards 
surely deserves praise. But to come to family matters — 
to descend, in short, from war — from cannon — How is your 
wife? 011um,t how is he? I hear that Lady Granard's 
system of conciliation has tended more to keep her neigh- 
bourhood quiet, than Lord Clare's laws, or General Lake's 
arms. — Here there is no news — they talk of war between 
France and the empire, but they don't know — nor of Buo- 
naparte, except that he has escaped them. 

Yours, H. Grattan. 


21s* Sept., 1798. 
Dear M'Can ; — I got the draft, and thank you. There 
is no news. I thank you for mentioning the report — I got 
it. Hughes's charge is ridiculous; 'tis impossible he can 
be believed. I should despise any thing he should say of 
me, even though it were not contradicted; but here it is 
contradicted by the person who must know best. 

Yours, most truly, H. Grattan. 

* This individual was appointed Bishop of Meath. He had been a 
great admirer of Lord Fitzwilliam ; had waited on him with addresses 
on his visit in Ireland in 1795; but he had now relapsed, and was a 
supporter of the opposite party, — forgetful of his benefactors. 

f An old gardener, who used to take much pride in exhibiting his 
flowers and roses, of which Mr. Grattan was particularly fond. 


On the 17th of July, 1798, Lord Castlereagh 
presented to the House of Commons various 
papers relating to the late conspiracy, which were 
referred to a secret committee ; and a report upon 
them was made on the 30th of August : it detailed 
the former reports of 1793 and 1797, and stated 
the proceedings and plans of the conspirators; 
the application for aid to France ; the intention 
to set up a republican form of Government, and 
overthrow the existing one : it set forth the papers 
found with the conspirators at the time of their 
arrest ; and concluded with the evidence of Em- 
mett, O'Connor, M'Nevin, Neilson, and that of 
Hughes, the Government spy. The report made 
by the House of Lords differed from that of the 
Commons, inasmuch as the evidence given by 
Neilson was not the same, and that of Hughes 
was altogether omitted. These persons stated 
they had visited Tinnehinch in the month of 
April — Hughes fixed the 28th as the precise day — 
and he asserted that Neilson told him he had 
there sworn Mr. Grattan a United Irishman. 

It happened that at that time he was in Eng- 
land ! ! Thus the spy was answered by the fact, 
and positively contradicted by Neilson, who de- 
nied ever having stated he had sworn Mr. Grat- 
tan. The Speaker (Foster),* who was on the 
committee, very properly objected to the inser- 
tion of Hughes's evidence in the report of the 
Commons ; but Lord Clare introduced it in the 
Lords, though perfectly aware that the charge 
was false, and that Mr. Grattan was not in Ire- 
land at the time stated, and pretty certain that he 
was not a United Irishman ; however, he wished 
to excite the suspicion, and circulate the impres- 

* Mr. James Corry, an intimate friend of Mr. Foster, assured me on 
his part of the accuracy of this statement, and requested my attention 
to the difference that exists between the reports. 



sion. The fact of the alibi was notorious; and the 
glaring perjury of Hughes was certain to be dis- 
covered on the slightest reference to dates ; but 
party rage ran so high, that it was not possible 
for Mr. Grattan to escape* from its blind and 
inconsiderate fury ; accordingly, his name was 
erased from the list of privy councillors — he was 
disfranchised by the corporation of Dublin, the 
guild of merchants, and the corporation of Deny ; 
and his picture was taken down from the walls of 
the University of Dublin. 

Neilson at this time was in prison ; and hearing- 
how his evidence had been mis-reported, sent his 
wife to a relation of Mr. Grattan's (the Reverend 
Richard Bermingham), and she informed him that 
her husband had desired her to say that the 
report of his evidence was quite erroneous, — that 
it had been garbled as well as suppressed; that 
he had informed the committee that Mr. Grattan 
knew nothing of their plans ; that they had not 
disclosed them to him — and that there was 
scarcely a person from whom they were more 
anxious to conceal them. Not satisfied with this, 
Neilson contrived to make a written communica- 
tion to Mr. Grattan, which he did in the following- 

There was an individual of the name of William 

* The risks that were then incurred, and the little chance of escape, 
may be judged of from this, and from the following occurrence : 

Many years afterwards, when Mr. Hardy was in company with Mr. 
Grattan at Tinnehinch, he produced a paper, which he said, if dis- 
covered at the time, might have cost him his life. It was the list of the 
insurgent force in the county of Wicklow. Mr. Hardy had got it from 
Lord Monck, who commanded the yeomanry. He had taken a copy of 
it, and shown it to Mr. Grattan who forgot to return it. They seemed 
to think that not only Hardy, but both of them would have been hanged, 
and it is probable that if the Ancient Britons, in their nocturnal visits, 
had found it, they would not have required any corroborating evidence to 
warrant their very summary executions. This shows the hazard as well 
as the horrors of such times, and should make men most cautious before 
they decide upon the fate of their fellow-creatures ; still more before they 
execute them. 



Dowdall, a natural son of Hussey Burgh. The 
distinguished part that Burgh had taken on behalf 
of the liberties of his country at the period of the 
Revolution in 1782, has been already stated : 
for him and for his memory, Mr. Grattan enter- 
tained the warmest affection. Dowdall was a 
young man of pleasing figure, good address, and 
an interesting manner ; he had been well edu- 
cated, and was not deficient in information ; he 
was ardent and enthusiastic, — a great admirer of 
his father's principles, and those also of Mr. 
Grattan. He used to attend the debates in Par- 
liament, and assist at the meetings of the Whig 
Club, and he held a situation in the office of Mr. 
Foster, when Chancellor of the Exchequer. It 
was said that Mr. Grattan, through his means, 
had received some papers connected with the 
public accounts, which he had made use of in a 
debate in the House of Commons. This was 
considered an unpardonable offence by Govern- 
ment, and in consequence he was dismissed from 
his situation. Whether this was the real cause, 
or used merely as a pretext, mattered little in the 
opinion of Mr. Grattan, and he conceived himself 
bound in honour to allow him an annuity of forty 
guineas* a-year : — hence, a greater interest arose 
in whatever concerned Mr. Grattan. The ardour 
of his liberal principles, unsubdued by his dis- 
missal, and, perhaps his imprudence, had caused 
him to be suspected ; and after the trial of O'Con- 
nor, at Maidstone, which he attended, he was 
arrested. Being confined in the same prison with 
Neilson, he learned from him the real statement 
as to the report of the secret committee, and he 
communicated it to Mr. Grattan. His letter will 
show what little chance of justice any one had in 
those times, and from those governors. 

* This is particularly mentioned here, as it led to future proceedings 
in 1803, and to the arrest of Mr. Grattan's agent. 




Dublin, 6th Oct. 1798. 

Sir, — Perhaps nothing can surprise you more than a 
line from me, as I imagine you have concluded me long 
since hanged ; but I have the misfortune to tell you that I 
am still in the land of the living; to heighten my misfor- 
tune — that land Ireland — my present residence Newgate. 

All the persecution and threats I have experienced for 
more than four months past, had no terrors for me. I 
looked for nothing so anxiously as the accomplishment of 
their worst threat. To hear the progressive destruction of 
my country in an English dungeon,* aggravated as it was 
by English relaters, you will naturally suppose left me a 
heart not much at ease ; but nothing, my dear Mr. Grat- 
tan, could equal what I felt from the villanous attempts I 
found making by your enemies, to implicate you in the 
late unfortunate business. On this head I had not one 
moment's peace of mind till I came to this prison, and 
learned from Samuel Neilson himself the particulars of his 
examination. I find it has been miserably carved and 
patched to answer their own views ; every artifice was used 
by the Chancellor and Speaker to implicate you, which, 
when he perceived, he named you himself, positively as- 
serting you were not a United Irishman to his knowledge, 
nor did he believe you such ; that he made use of every 
argument to bring you forward in some manner, to save 
the country, as you were at that time so completely popu- 
lar, that he never pointed out any particular manner to 
you, and that nothing could induce you to take any part, 
as you could not see a clear course to steer, by which the 
country might be saved from tyranny on the one hand, or 
anarchy on the other. He also stated that the plan of 
reform prepared by you (called Mr. Ponsonby's) would have 
satisfied the North at the time. That the Opposition then 
had a right to think they had the support of the people, as 
several copies of it were sent to the different leaders and 
influential persons in Leinster and Ulster, in order to re- 
ceive their alterations, for the purpose of incorporating 
them into a general plan, which plan, so altered, they re- 
turned to you. In a word, he did every thing to convince 
them that the measures proposed by your party would have 
saved the country two years ago, and that you had no 

* lie had been imprisoned in England. 

410 neilson's statement against [chap. XI. 

manner of connexion with their latter system of separation. 
They, on the other hand, not only endeavoured to avoid all 
his opinions and conclusions on this head (still aiming at 
implicating you), but have, in many instances, misstated 
such parts of his evidence as they thought proper to give. 
On the whole, he says the committee seemed convinced of 
your ignorance of the proceedings of the United Irishmen, 
and the majority of them were delicate in questions relating 
to you. 

I have declined signing the conditions agreed on between 
Government and the other prisoners, as no consideration 
will ever induce me to consent to any examination, how- 
ever speciously it may be pretended that I shall not be 
required to name persons.* I entirely and completely dis- 
approve of the compromise, and, therefore, take it for 
granted that I shall remain a prisoner for a long, long 
time, if they have not a Reynolds, a Hughes, or some other 
well trained hero, to release me from my sufferings. 

I hope Mrs. Grattan and you find perfect health in Eng- 
land ; that you may long continue to do so, and be happy, 
is the first wish of your sincerely devoted Servant, 

Wm. Dowdall. 

I send you a letter of Neilson's, wherein he gives the 
examination as it should stand ; but states none of the 
conversation about Opposition, as the report takes no notice 
of it. I have, however, above stated the purport. 


New Prison, Oct. 5, 1798. 

My dear Sir ; — At the request of my friend, Dowdall, 
I write to you. I should have done so long since, but for 
two reasons, — interception and implication. I, therefore, 
requested our mutual friend, Curran, to do so for me. 
Never was misrepresentation more vile than that put into 
my mouth by the Report. I will state, as near as I can 
possibly recollect, the sum of my examination before the 
committee, so far as related to you : — 

Question. — Were you ever at Tinnehinch ? — Yes. 

Q. — About the time of Bond's arrest ? — Yes. 

Q. — Is it fair to ask what brought you there. — Yes. 
And, now, before we go further, I wish to state, that I see 

* This was one of the stipulations made by Emmett and O'Connor, 
&c. ; a very useless one, and if taken together with the loosely worded 
agreement, shows what very bad men of business they were. 




you are pointing (contrary to our agreement) at an indi- 
vidual — Mr. Grattan. I can safely say, on my oath, that 
he had no concern in oar transactions; but I will never say 
one word of any other person, or that can implicate any, 
because a refusal might be construed into a silent accus- 

Q. — We mean nothing against Mr. Grattan ; but were 
you not there in company with a certain gentleman ? — I 
don't recollect being ever there in company, but with Bond 
and Mr. Sweetman. 

Q. — Never with any other? — Not to my recollection. I 
was in the habit of paying visits to every gentleman who 
resided in the neighbourhood where I then resided, and 
Mr. G. among the rest. 

Q. — Did you never swear him an United Irishman? — 

Q. — Did you ever say you did ? — I am not accustomed 
to falsehood. 

Q. — Now, Mr. Neilson, did you not press Mr. G. to 
come forward ? — Yes. 

Q. — Did you use any arguments? — Yes; I saw the 
country likely to be shipwrecked on anarchy, or despotism, 
and I wished that such men as those who had political 
talent, and public opinion, should take an active part. 

Q. — Did he refuse ? — Yes. 

Q. — Upon what ground ? — That he did not see any way 
clear to save the country. 

This, my dear sir, is the sum of what passed, and almost 
verbatim. May you yet save a country which I am obliged 
to part from with regret. Ever yours, 

Sam uel Neilson. 

I omitted to state, that on my return, a gentleman, be- 
fore whom I related the outline of my examination to my 
friend Bond, and my regret that any person should in- 
sinuate to me reservations, — he, a person in confidence, 
told me not to be uneasy on that score, as he knew their 
object was to find out the veracity of another person. I 
instantly recollected that Hughes and I had been there, 
and I flew to write to the Chancellor to that effect, without 
ever stating one single word more. 


Oct. 23d, 1798. 
My dear B. ; — I got your letter. — It had been, like my 


other, opened. The Guild of Merchants have made them- 
selves a set of blockheads. I wish to see the copy of the 
Resolution, that I may consider whether any notice, or 
what notice should be taken of it. Those enemies are 
serving me. They are persecuting me on a subject in 
which my conduct is perfectly clear. Love to all. 

Yours, H. G. 
I don't feel in the least on this business, except a pride 
in being arraigned by a set of boobies — all well. 


Oct. 27 th> 1798. 

My dear M'Can ; — I got your draft — I enclose you a 
paragraph which I wish you to give to Bermingham to 
give to my friends, such as he pleases. 

What do my friends mean by saying I should take no- 
tice of Hughes's testimony — in what manner ? It seems 
to me too contemptible ; however, tell me in what way. 

I don't feel the run against me, because I know it is 
founded on folly. I just got your letter of the 18th. 

Yours, H. Grattan. 

All my letters are opened. 

I shall delay going to the Continent until the run against 
me is over. 


Twickenham, October 20, 1798. 
Dear Sir, — The game arrived safe, and was extremely 
good, and I should have written to thank you, but was not 
certain of your address. I thank you for your offer to send 
me more, should the same success attend your arms. We 
shall continue at Twickenham for three weeks. I think 
I should have some reason to complain of the Court 
if it had associated me with itself and dissociated me 
from you. 

To have resembled you at that moment of your destiny, 
in which you so deservedly obtained the just testimony of 
public love and return for public service, would not have 
been enough. It was necessary to have also the counter- 
sanction and verification of Court displeasure.* Per- 
sonally, I must say, the Castle has been partial to me — it 
has not taken away my character by its company, nor my 
life by its informers. — I am, dear Sir, yours, most truly, 

Henry Grattan. 
* Mr. Fox's name was also struck from the list of privy councillors. 


Importuned by his friends, Mr. Grattan, after 
much solicitation on their part, thought fit to 
consult with Mr. (afterwards Lord) Erskine, on 
the subject of the charges alleged against him in 
the Report of the House of Lords, and he accord- 
ingly sent it, with the following remarks, to Mr. 
Erskine : — 


Twickenham, Nov. J, 1798. 
Dear Sir, — I have marked the passages that relate to 
me ; they are in pages 28, 29, 43, 44. I enclose an 
answer, which I can verify on oath ; and wish to know 
from you, first, whether the evidence against me be ma- 
terial ; — secondly, whether the answer be sufficient, and 

I enclose also a resolution of the Dublin Guild of Mer- 
chants, which makes an additional reason why I should 
notice the charge. If I could have your opinion by 
Saturday, I should be very thankful ; and shall call at 
your house in London, or in the country, if that time' be 
not too soon. — I am, with the greatest respect, yours, very 
sincerely, H. Grattan. 


The charge, as stated in the Report, is physically impos- 
sible. At the time in which the meetings are laid, I had 
left Ireland, or the persons composing those meetings were 
in prison. 

This physical impossibility appears on the face of the 
Report, therefore the Ministry, when they acted on this 
charge, were apprised of the physical impossibility of its truth. 
I despise to avail myself, however, of the alibi ; the person 
named in the Report did visit, me long before the time 
.stated in the Report. The three persons, Bond, Neilson, 
and Sweetman, in the spring of 1798, rode to the country 
to breakfast with me, once and once only, without invita- 
tion or appointment, and at that visit of personal acquain- 
tance, which is most improperly called an interview, made 
no proposal to me, held no conversation with me, and 
never discoursed on their own subject. A considerable 
time after, Mr. Neilson, with a man named Hughes, whom 
I did not know, without appointment called on me to 
breakfast, which visit has been very improperly called an 

414 mr. erskine's opinion as to [chap. XI. 

interview, when he held no consultation with me what- 
soever, but only entered upon a general conversation ; with 
what specific view or application, I cannot affirm ; but 
I can say, it was not attended with any effect ; and fur- 
ther, that he shewed me the United Irishmen's published 
and printed Constitution, and explained it, but did not 
shew me or explain their plans. I must observe, that said 
Constitution was only the organization of their committees, 
such as appeared in the published report of the House of 
Commons a year and a half ago. 

I am sure Mr. Sweetman knows what I have said above 
to be the case, as far as relates to him ; and that Mr. Neilson, 
on recollecting, must be sensible of it. As far as Mr. 
Hughes 1 testimony relates to me, save only as above, 'tis 
without foundation — it is not true that Mr. Neilson ever 
swore me — it is not true that I ever went to see him in 
Newgate — and it is impossible Mr. Neilson ever said it. 


Dear Sir, — The words contained in the Report are, 
that the witness shewed or explained to you the last 
Constitution of the United Irishmen, and pressed you to 
come forward. What that last Constitution is, I know 
not ; but if it is now known, or can be proved to have been 
nothing more than an association organized in the- manner 
described by your memorandum, and published in all the 
newspapers, it certainly could not be misprision of treason, 
which consists in the concealment of treason, and not of 
any inferior crime, however dangerous to its tranquillity. 

I think that the propriety of any "notice from you of the 
many indignities pointed at you, depends upon your own 
feelings, subjecting them, at the same time, to the regula- 
tion of those of your friends who are connected with Ire- 
land, and who are the best acquainted with its affairs. 

An answer from Mr. Grattan, at the same time, if it 
proceeds from himself, and not merely as a paragraph, sup- 
posed to be the result of the opinion of his friends on the 
subject, should be somewhat more enlarged and compre- 
hensive than the enclosed memorandum, because the pub- 
lic do not carry in their minds the facts which it refers to, 
and because it should contain the principles on which Mr. 
Grattan has always publicly acted and professed to act. 

The maxim of Government no doubt is, that no tyranny, 
— no perversion of the trusts of Government, — no extinc- 


tion, however degrading and insulting, of every security 
and privilege which form the consideration of the subject's 
obedience, can justify even morally, independently of legal 
obligation, any resort to combination, or resistance ; but 
above all, to the one or the other as connected with 
foreign force, though a nation should be too weak within 
itself to shake off the yoke of pow r er, — though it may have 
emancipated itself from the conditions annexed to its 

The application of this principle, as it has applied or 
may apply hereafter to Ireland, it is not my province 
or purpose to discuss ; but the difficulty of setting about a 
public refutation of the charge of being a United Irishman, 
even m their sense of the ivord, is, that it must advance 
one of two propositions — either that in your opinion no 
circumstances can justify such a combination, which per- 
haps you are not prepared to assert; or else that the actual 
circumstances under which that combination took place 
did so little justify it, that it is an impeachment of 
moral character to be supposed to have acceded to it. 

I say these are the only propositions, because, taking it 
to be only an aspersion which endangers the person by im- 
puting a crime that may be prosecuted, I think it is too 
contemptible to deserve notice. 

The Rebellion is now conquered, and therefore your dis- 
avowal will not be useful for the maintenance of authority, 
which is already established ; it will not (however con- 
vincing and satisfactory) make peace with Government, 
and restore you to its confidence, neither would you accept 
of its confidence, supposing it could produce that effect ; 
and nothing therefore would remain to it but the declara- 
tion to the mortified, discomfited, subdued Irish, (many of 
whom believed, at least, that they acted upon principle, 
though they were traitors against the law,) that you con- 
demn and abjure them, and that, with all your objections 
to Government, you are ready to meet them in the field. 

If this be a moral duty in a subject of Ireland at this 
moment, as tending to restore peace and good order, and 
Government, security to personal liberty, and protection to 
property, I would, in your place, make the declaration at 
all hazards ; but if 1 thought it was more likely to create 
exasperation than to restore harmony, I would have you 
exercise the right of silence where the avowal of your sen- 
timents could be of no service to your country, and prepare 

416 mr. grattan's manifesto [chap. XI. 

yourself to act whenever you observed a fit occasion for 
exertion, as your duty to God, to your country, and to the 
world, unite in exacting from a man of your great talents 
and influence. 

I only throw out these hints for your own reflection, and 
for consultation with your friends connected with Ireland, 
who are alone capable of advising you with propriety and 
safety. — Yours, sincerely, Thomas Erskine. 

Notwithstanding the opinion of Mr. Erskine, ab- 
solute silence did not appear to Mr. Grattan tobe the 
course which he ought to pursue on the occasion. 
He accordingly published some remarks on the 
conduct which had been pursued towards him ; 
and addressed his letter to an English newspaper, 
as in Ireland the press would have feared to 
insert it. 


Sir, — I resort to your power to communicate a letter to 
certain descriptions of persons in Ireland, who have been 
extremely busy in their attacks on me, and who deserve 
not absolute silence, nor yet much notice. 

I choose to begin with that rank which I respect most — 
the Merchants ; and were those persons using the name 
of that corporation the mercantile body of Dublin, I should 
be sorry indeed ; not because I allow that the whole body, 
much as I respect them, could, by a scandalous proceed- 
ing bear down my character, but because I should be 
afflicted that by such a proceeding they had forfeited their 
own. I feel myself so linked and connected with every 
thing which belongs to the great body of the people of 
Ireland, that a comprehensive description of them could 
not, by any injustice, disgrace itself, without involving 
their natural friend and advocate in their degradation. 
Happy am I, however, that the persons in question are 
no more the merchants of Dublin than they are the people 
of Ireland ; on the contrary, that they are an inconsiderable 
gathering, actuated by what folly or faction I care not 3 
who have, in the charge against me, uttered not only what 
cannot be true, but what is recorded to be false : they have 
said, that they have legal evidence that I was concerned 
in the late rebellion, and the only matter they could have 
had before them was the Report of the Committee of the 



Irish Lords, which is no legal evidence of any charge 
whatever against me ; and which, if it were, is not evi- 
dence of that crime — so that those men, calling themselves 
the Guild of Merchants of Dublin, have asserted, pub- 
lished, and sealed, a self-convicted falsehood. I lament to 
be forced to use such words — and yet they are the mildest 
words such a conduct deserves, and must be understood 
by them, and applied to them in a sense the most unmea- 
sured, and the most unqualified. 

To the Corporation of Dublin I wish to say a word : 
They are not the citizens of Dublin — they are not even a 
considerable part of them, and they never spoke their 
spirit nor their sentiments; but as they have the honour 
of appertaining to the city, they are entitled to a degree 
of attention ; and the best method of shewing it, is by ad- 
vising them to be less fond of displaying themselves on 
every occasion. There are cases where their exertions are 
proofs of their folly, and where their repose would be an 
argument of their wisdom. All ministers, all men in 
power, all clerks, and the whole mob and rabble of the 
court, have been so sweltered with their charms, that it 
now requires a more than popular appetite to encounter 
their embraces; but very little share of philosophy to en- 
dure their displeasure. They ever wait on the wink of 
power to praise or persecute, and to blemish a reputation 
by unjust calumny, or unmeaning panegyric. With 
respect to them — with respect to the other corporations — 
with respect to all persons adopting similar proceedings, 
I am inclined to attribute much less to malice, and much 
more to folly — a good deal to influence — a good deal to 
servility, and to that low, impotent, persecuting spirit, by 
which the slavish mind shows its devotion at the expence 
of its understanding. 

1 ought not to be angry with these men, because I am 
one of the few of his Majesty's subjects, whom their 
charges, even if they were echoed as they are reprobated 
by my country, could not affect, and who might receive a 
thousand such shafts on the shield of character, — not with 
indignation, not with contempt, but with calm and pointed 
forgiveness — the result of a proud superiority, founded on 
my services and their injustice. To be angry with such 
men were to be degraded. On the subject of the charge I 
will make no explanation to them. I have said thus much 
to them, and they deserve much more; but I am not in 



mr. grattan's manifesto, [chap. XI. 

the habit of reproaching any portion of my fellow-citizens : 
if their mortification were the wish of my heart, I would 
refer them to the invectives of some of his Majesty's 

Were it not robbing heaven of their time, I would say 
a few words to the Doctors. They had judged — they had 
condemned ; but they forgot to try — they forgot to in- 
quire. Pindaric poetry I admire ; yet, I desire not to be 
tried by Pindaric justice. But divine men have privileges 
over the moral order of things, and in the holy way may 
spurn the vulgar bonds of equity, and pedant rules of 
evidence ; perhaps the fabled buckler of divinity is not 
always court proof — up and down, exalted and detested — 
his picture high, his person just not hanged ; mildness 
and Fitzwilliam ; coercion and torture. Do I mention 
these things to condemn the learned Doctors? — no. But 
may I congratulate the memory of mad Athens, and tem- 
pestuous Rome, who find a pious shade cast over their in- 
sanities, by an example of more than republican incon- 
stancy, in the instance of grave, orderly, regular, solid, and 
most excellent clergymen. I assure them I am not their 
enemy, though they may be mine. But that is not the 
case with another description of men, with whom I should 
be ashamed to discourse in the same tone of temper and 
moderation — I mean that Irish faction, which is the secret 
mover of all this calumny and all this injustice — they stand 
at the head of a bloody combination. I look on them as the 
cause of every evil that has of late fallen on their country. 
I protest I do not know a faction which, considering the very 
small measure of their credit and ability, has done so much 
mischief to their king and country. They opposed the re- 
storation of the Constitution of Ireland ; they afterwards 
endeavoured to betray and undermine it ; they introduced 
a system of corruption unknown in the annals of parlia- 
ment : they then proclaimed that corruption so loudly, so 
scandalously, and so broadly, that one of them was ob- 
liged to deny in one house, the notorious expressions he 
had used in another. They accompanied these offences 
by an abominable petulance of invective uttered from time 
to time against the great body of the people of Ireland, 
and having by such proceedings, and such a discourse, lost 
their affection, they resorted to a system of coercion to support 
a system of torture attendant on a conspiracy of which their 
crimes was the cause. And now their country displays a 



most extraordinary contest — where an Englishman, at the 
head of its government, struggles to spare the Irish people, 
and an Irish faction presses to shed their blood ! 1 repeat 
it, — 1 do not know a faction more dangerous, more malignant, 
or more sanguinary.* 

I am ready to enter into a detail of all this: enough at 
present to say, that I have been forced to write thus much, 
because I have no opportunity of vindication but the press, 
and no press but that of England. 

I shall conclude by assuring that faction, that I am ap- 
prized of their enmity, and shall wait to meet their hos- 
tility ; hoping, however, that they may not be my judges, 
or their blood-hounds my jury. At all events, if such a 
faction be permitted to dominate in Ireland, I had rather 
suffer by its injustice, than live under its oppression. 

Henry Grattan. 

Twickenham, Nov. 9, 1798. 


November 10, 1798. 

My dear Doctor ; — I sent you a letter in the Courier. 

I think the Merchants' resolutions ought to be despised ; 
I have just noticed it to despise it. Hardy gives it too much 
consequence. A lawsuit would determine nothing except 
that thev told a lie, which the evidence decides without 
the suit. 

Tell my Lord Pery I love him ; assure him, moreover, 
that the evidence, as stated in the Report of the Lords' 
Committee, is not only not founded in fact, but, in every fact 
which is essential, unfounded. 

I will trouble you with the real case hereafter ; but they 
have abused me too much to suffer me to stoop to excul- 

* The violence of party, and the fell spirit of Orangeism which was 
so artfully fostered under Mr. Pitt's Government in Ireland, may be 
judged of from the following occurrence. — One of the insurgent party 
had returned from transportation a little before the period allowed 
by law had elapsed. He was brought to the house of a nobleman — 
a captain of yeomanry, and was desired to disclose the names of 
his former associates ; this he refused to do. There was a jovial parly 
in the house at the time, and the nobleman took out his watch, and gave 
the man half an hour to make up his mind. He was again asked to 
disclose his associates; he again refused; upon which he was instantly 
shot on the steps of the hall door ! The wife of this nobleman went on 
her knees to beg his life; but her husband was inexorable. Yet, only 
a few hours later, and no man would have dared to touch a hair of his 
head ! 

E E 2 



pation. Take notice, that Neilson, at the time he is stated 
to have called on me accidentally, (for it was not an appoint- 
ment or interview,) was closeted by Mr. Pelham on the 
question of restoring the North to tranquillity, by reform- 
ing the Parliament ; that Bond and Hughes never called 
upon me the whole of the year 98 but once, and then made 
no proposition whatsoever, their visit being that of ac- 
quaintanceship merely, without any confidential communi- 
cation whatsoever. Hughes is almost entirely false, and 
where not false, perverted. I might go into particulars ; 
but, I must repeat it, I should be sorry anything like 
a justification of me should appear, because / had rather be 
thought guilty of the charge, than of the condescension to ex- 
plain to a set of men whose conduct I think criminal, and 
whose opinion contemptible. 

My love to all. I send you my letter, lest the printer 
should have omitted it. — Yours, H. G. 

Thank Hardy. Tell my Lord Pery once more, I love 
him ; he is almost the only man from whom I never differed 
in opinion without trembling. 


Nov. 15th, 1798. 

My dear Doctor;- — Name the French Sermons, and I 
will send them. I differ from our most excellent corpulent 
friend ; # it were to give too much importance to the charge, 
and to them who make it, to proceed by law. I deny that 
such men are competent to arraign. I go farther, I deny 
that our juries are competent to convict or acquit me. I 
don't concur with our most excellent lean friendf on the 
attendance on Parliament. The state of the press is a 
reason against departing from the principle of secession on 
the subject of Union. That question will never come before 
the Parliament of Ireland until it be carried ; and if ever 
there was a mock debate in the Irish Senate, it will be on the 
subject of the Union — no press to publish — a garrison with- 
out — and a court majority within. 

Tell the young doctorf I thank him for his letter, which 
I received this day. 

They talk much of the renewal of the combination 
against France — there are some who doubt it. We got a 

* Francis Hardy. f- Joseph Preston (the poet). 

X Reverend Richard Bermingham, who had written to him respecting 
the communication from Mrs. Neilson. 



kind letter from Tom ;* but Tom gives too much importance 
to the opinion of a successful faction. He may rely on it 
the opinion don't signify one farthing. I ought to lose it 
in order to deserve yours, and that of valuable men. Were 
that opinion formed on the evidence before the Lords, that 
could be satisfactorily refuted; but / will explain nothing 
to criminals who would not acquit me, because I am innocent 
of the particular charge, but would convict me because I am 
innocent of other charges, of which they are guilty. Recollect, 
Doctor, that if those slaves make an uncommon rattling, it is 
because they are in chains. I had for a moment thought of 
going to Ireland for a week, or so; but to go out of my 
way in any degree, — to move an inch to the north, where 
I intended to stay, an inch to the south, would be to feel 
such attacks. I do so far attend to them, that I remain 
within the reach of danger ; but to make a move to seek the 
opinion of a set of poor slaves, would be a compliment to 
folly in a state of servitude, which it did not deserve in a 
state of liberty. Yours, &c. Henry Grattan. 


London, \8th Nov. 1798. 

My dear M'Can ; — I got your letter: had they not 
abused me so unjustly on account of Hughes's evidence, I 
might, perhaps, have sent a statement in which it would 
appear what they make treason, was an innocent breakfast. 
But this is not the moment — they have used me too ill — 
I will set them at defiance ; — besides, I will not stoop to 
flatter power, by abjuring a discomfited party studiously, 
or pusillanimously. It is unnecessary to go over to Ireland, 
because I am within the jurisdiction of his Majesty here. 
I am within the reach of every thing here, and shall post- 
pone my visit to the Continent to remain here, and en- 
counter any thing, of any sort, that may be intended. 

I wish you would give a woman of the name of Ann 
Malone thirty shillings. She was a pensioner of our family, 
and has a poor mother near Tinnehinch. Direct to No. 
30, Duke-street, Manchester Square. God bless you. 

Yours, H. Grattan. 

* Colonel Fitzgerald, his brother-in-law. He was serving at that 
time with his regiment in the South of Ireland. 




Nov. 30th, 1798. 

Bear Doctor, —I write this in the dark, and if you can 
read it 'tis more than I can. 

I have the French Sermons in my eye, but remind me of 
them by letter. I enclose a note in the Courier; show it, 
for they probably won't print it. 

Love to Ann* — to all. 

The news to-day is, that the Emperor has made peace 
with France, and it is believed by wise people. I have 
received several affectionate letters from Ireland ; so that 
the fools that abuse me, only prove the friends that love 
me. There will be no Union. 

Where are Foster and Beresford ? What's doing I can't 
hear. They say Foster has resisted a Union, the Times 
says otherwise. 

I have not seen Lord Moira ; he was out when I called, 
but I shall see him before he leaves London. 

Lady Charlotte Rawdonf wrote to Mrs. Grattan— she is 
to be with her to-morrow. I have been confined with a 
cold, or should have gone there yesterday or to-day. The 
weather has been very severe — coals very dear — if coals had 
been as dear in Dublin, when I was representative, as they 
now are in London, I should have been hanged. I have 
tired you — you write so like Richard Bermingham, and 
Richard Bermingham writes so like you, that I know the 
letters of both, by not being able to read either. 

Yours, H. G. 

Ever remember me to Lord Pery. I cannot get an- 
other newspaper, and, therefore, I wish you to circulate 
the enclosed. You can get, and give copies of it, as I sup- 
pose they will not publish it in Ireland. 


Sir, — I was forced to charge certain persons, calling 
themselves the Dublin Guild of Merchants, with gross and 
recorded falsehood. How sorry am I to be obliged to 
extend the same unqualified indignity to certain other 
persons, calling themselves the Corporation of Derry ! 
In the pain which I feel to write in this manner to any 
description of Irishmen, nothing consoles me, except a 
thorough conviction, that they have departed from the 

His wife. 

t Lord Moira's sister. 


generous qualities of their countrymen, and have forfeited 
the character of truth and honour. 

To have enemies, is the general lot of public life; not to 
have deserved them among the people of Ireland, is the singu- 
larity of mine. HeiNRY Grattan. 

Duke-street, Manchester-square. 

Indignant at the gross perversion of his evidence 
in the Report of the Lords' Committee, Neilson 
was not satisfied with the private statement made 
to Mr. Grattan, but he sent a letter to the English 
press, publicly denying its accuracy. 


New Prison, December, 1798. 
Sir ; — It appenrs to be the occupation of a certain party 
to calumniate the State prisoners. So far as these calum- 
nies regard myself, 1 smile at them for the moment. Time 
rolls on, and truth will one day be heard. In the mean- 
time, I am, however, particularly called pn by some recent 
publications, in vindication of a truly respectable character, 
whose conduct and principles have been basely vilified, to 
state thus publicly, that not one word can fall from me 
which could, in the most remote degree, tend to support 
the accusation made against him,* as the committee of the 
Lords and Commons well know ; and I cannot but say, 
that the coupling my name with that of a common in- 
former,t whose testimony was in direct opposition to mine, 
even as given in a celebrated Report, is but a clumsy pre- 
text for the traduction of virtue. 

Samuel Nlilson. 

The conspiracy of the Government spy had 
failed, and the perjury of the party would have 
been more publicly exposed, and properly pu- 
nished, if the press in Ireland had not been 
almost extinct, if any liberty had been allowed to 
exist, and if pains had been taken on the subject 
by Mr. Grattan ; but his letters show that he was 
not inclined to proceed in the matter, for what 

Mr. Grattan. 

f Hughes. 

424 bird's disclosure prevented [chap. xi. 

chance would he have had of obtaining justice ? — 
or what hopes from a jury in Ireland ? He there- 
fore patiently awaited the development of any 
further malignity on the part of his enemies, and 
set them at defiance. A discovery, however, was 
now on the eve of being made, which would have 
greatly embarrassed them ; perhaps have covered 
them with shame, and have fully exposed their 
iniquitous proceedings. The informer Bird, of 
whom mention has been made already, and who 
had renounced their friendship and escaped from 
their protection, had about this period been appre- 
hended in the county of Louth, and happened to 
be imprisoned in the same place as William Dow- 
el all, and to him he made a communication of great 
importance, (as he represented it,) to Mr. Grattan's 
personal safety. Dowdall told this to Mr. Curran, 
who, being often applied to professionally by 
the state prisoners, was fixed upon to receive 
Bird's statement. Unfortunately, some acci- 
dent or misadventure prevented him from pro- 
curing it at the time, and I well recollect, when 
Mr. Grattan afterwards was alluding to that pe- 
riod, he said that Curran had been guilty of a 
very great omission in " not obtaining the in- 
formation in a matter which might have proved 
so very material to his character or perhaps to his 
life." Whether it may have occurred through ne- 
glect or not, the critical opportunity was suffered 
to pass, and Dowdall's note to Bird being found 
by the Government retainers, the latter was in- 
stantly hurried away. The clue to the business was 
lost, all further discovery in the attempts against Mr. 
Grattan was at an end ; and the danger being over, 
he did not seek to act upon the communication. 
It was said by some, that Government had con- 
nected themselves in the proceedings of Hughes, 
and that they had planned them. It was by others 




said that Lord Clare had applied to Stockdale (the 
printer imprisoned by order of the House of Lords), 
and that considerable and singular offers were 
made to him. There is no doubt but that he was 
visited by Lord Clare and interrogated by him 
respecting Mr. Grattan ; but Stockdale could say 
nothing ; the mystery, however, that hung over 
these occurences was never removed ; and doubt- 
less, whatever was their precise object, no good 
was intended towards Mr. Grattan. The letters 
are of a singular character. 


Neiu Prison, Tuesday Morning, Dec. 1798. 

Sir; — Permit me to return you my sincere thanks for 
the twenty guineas handed to me by Mrs. Risk. Though 
left without a shilling at present, (the poor creatures from 
whom I received some little rent, being- driven to ruin and 
banishment by the insurrection,) I feel the utmost pain in 
accepting from you, on whom I can have no claim to such 
a present, and beg- you will not be offended at my indulg- 
ing a hope I may yet in some manner repay it. 

1 received the enclosed letter to forward to you, before I 
suffered you to commit yourself with the writer. I wrote 
to him by the advice of Mr. Curran (a copy of which I also 
enclose). This letter of mine, I am informed, was found in 
his room, and occasioned his being instantly sent to England 
in irons to prevent any further communication. I really think 
this man is in possession of some circumstances very material 
to you, either in attempts by himself or some other of the 
band, to injure you; but your own judgment will best de- 
termine how vou should act. 

1 have declined signing the conditions of the Govern- 
ment for emigration, but if they would allow me to depart 
without examination, or other security than that of leaving 
the country, I should prefer it to an arbitrary imprisonment ; 
indeed, I am inclined to think, if I memorialized Lord Corn- 
wallis, I might be admitted to bail, as M'Gucken (who was 
included in the list of emigrants at his own solicitation), 
but I know not well through what channel to have it 
handed to himself, and never could consent that anything 


from me like a request of favour should appear before 
Cooke. # 

I hope Mrs. Grattan and you have enjoyed perfect health. 
Believe me, sir, that you may continue to do so, and finally 
overcome your enemies, is the sincerest wish of 

Your ever devoted humble servant, 

Wm. Dowdall. 


Sir, — I have transmitted the letter to the person you 
wish, together with my opinion of the sentiments of the 
writer. My own knowledge, but more particularly that of 
some here, so much better acquainted with him, leaves not a 
doubt of his honour and disinterestedness. 

He has, to a certainty, by this received the letter ; in the 
delicate situation all parties are placed, you will not expect 
his acknowledgment at present. I believe it is hardly 
necessary to tell you, that my sincere respect for that gen- 
tleman is such, as to authorise me to act as my judgment 
may dictate, in anything that concerns his honour or 
interest. I have therefore no doubt (convinced as I am of 
the purity of your motives) that you will, through me, com- 
municate anything for his information. For my conduct in 
this business you have every security, from my private 
esteem for the person in question,— from honour and grati- 
tude. — I am, Sir, &c. &c. Wm. Dowdall. 


State Prison, Dublin Castle, Dec. 1, 1798. 

Sir, — The ephemeral triumph of corruption and vice, by 
no means make me repent having quitted its blood-stained 
banners ; and amid the evils of a rigid confinement, the 
consciousness of having torn some intended victims from 
its merciless fangs, affords me a consolation in my solitary 
dungeon superior to any I have ever before experienced. 

By a strange concatenation of circumstances, some very 
important secrets have been thrown into my power, a part 
of which is, I believe, ere this developed by me in a 
letter I addressed to the Marquis of Cornwallis, and 
signed " Humanitas but a still more important one, and 
inexpressibly gratifying to my feelings, has placed one of 
your venal persecutors {and the most celebrated one too) com- 
pletely within my grasp, and I have already secured such 
corroboration, as shall strike conviction into the breasts of 
* The under-secretary. 


those sanguinary and bigotted wretches, who wish hy any 
means to effect your destruction, though they dare not 
avow it. 

Till I know that this letter is received safe, I shall not 
be more explicit ; nor can I publicly avow it, till I am 
liberated, (of which I have not the smallest prospect,) 
except a prosecution by the State follows a prosecution by 
hirelings and assassins, in which no consideration whatever 
shall hinder my coming forward, if, Sir, when you are pos- 
sessed of particulars, you should deem such an act requisite 
to insure your safety. 

You had once, Sir, an opportunity of witnessing, that 
when the proof of enormities, committed by the governors 
against the governed, was about to be investigated, I did 
not shrink from my part, but offered to appear and be exa- 
mined at the bar of the House of Peers.* This, Sir, 
I trust, will secure me credit when I assert, that in this 
communication I have no other than direct views, which 
centre in one point, a most ardent desire of securing your 
life from murderets t and your character from perjured 
calumniators. — I have the honour to be, with the most 
profound respect, Sir, your most humble and obedient 
servant, J. Bird. 

N.B. — Mr. * * * is the medium through which I 
transmit this letter, and anything that may hereafter occur 
in this business can be done through the same channel ; 
but no person can call on me with safety, as Major Sirr 
takes up every one whom he knows of coming to see me. 

In these times of trouble and of danger, when 
the reign of terror prevailed, when private friend- 
ship vanished before the threats of power and the 
virulence of faction, and when all the bad passions 
of the human heart had unfortunately been set 
in motion, it is satisfactory to be able to record 
the kindness of individuals, whose sincerity and 
constancy remained unshaken. f One of the most 

* When he communicated with Lord Moira on his motion in the 
Irish Parliament. 

f It must also be here mentioned that the regard and the friendship 
that had subsisted between the Prince of Wales and Mr. Grattan, under- 
went at this period no change whatever. He discredited all the rumours 
regarding him, and though not always steady to his friends, he continued 
so to the last in the case of Mr. Grattan. 



remarkable instances, was that of Mr. Fox. In- 
dignant at the manner in which Mr. Grattan was 
treated, he took a ready opportunity to evince his 
attachment, not only to his principles, but to his 
person ; and when the Whig Club of England 
assembled in the month of December, (Lord Hol- 
land in the chair,) after alluding to the politics of 
the day, and passing a panegyric on Mr. Grattan, 
he thus expressed himself — 

" Gentlemen who are not very young will recollect that 
Mr. Grattan was, during the American war, at the head 
of the Opposition in Ireland ; acting on the same principles 
as the Opposition with which I am connected here; and, 
in the change which took place in consequence of that 
successful opposition, he bore a considerable part, and his 
efforts are not forgotten. He received a grant from the 
Parliament of his country — a mark of their attention and 
kindness. I have also received from my country, though 
not in the same way, but in a way equally peculiar and 
unprecedented — a mark of kindness and attention equally 
flattering.* To add to that similarity, we also are the two 
persons, who, having received the most substantial marks 
of public approbation, have also received from the Ministers 
the least substantial marks of ministerial displeasure — from 
the Public we have received ease and affluence — by the 
Minister we have had our names erased from the Privy 

Gentlemen remarking this similarity in political charac- 
ter, may think that it is from motives of partiality that I 
give Mr. Grattan as a toast ; but I assure you he has 
higher claims than from mere personal attachment. His 
life has been uniformly spent in maintaining the just princi- 
ples of the Constitution, and in promoting the happiness of 
his native land; and without sacrificing his independence 
amidst the corruptions of the times, he has kept clear of 
anything prejudicial to his country. He has never been con- 
cerned in disturbing its tranquillity, and has never lent the 
sanction of his name to acts of violence and oppression." 

Mr. Fox then proposed, " Henry Grattan, and 
the friends of liberty and moderation in Ireland." 

* A large subscription was made by the Whig party, and upwards of 
80,000/. presented to him. Of which 25,000/. was to buy an annuity, 
and the rest to pay his debts. 



In consequence of this compliment, Mr. Grattan 
wrote to Mr. Fox as follows : 

Dec. 6, 1798. 

My dear Sir; — I am again to thank you. Nothing 
could be more honourable to me, or more seasonable, — I 
could not have wished it done in a better manner; it was 
very material to me that such a declaration should be 
made at this time. 

I had some thoughts of going to the Club, but was in 
doubt, should I have gone, what to say, and therefore fol- 
lowed the rule of policy, when I was uncertain what was 
proper to do — to do nothing. It gives some pleasure to 
be able to assure you that you were right in the opinion 
that you have formed of my moderation, — as will appear 
from the paper* I enclose to you, which is an observation 
on the evidence that appeared against me, which I did not 
publish — for this reason, — lest it should appear abjuring 
a discomfited party in Ireland, who have been driven into 
the measures they adopted by the real criminals of the country 
— the Ministers. At the same time I wish to show it to 
you, and to particular friends, who will there see the pre- 
cipitation of Government. I am very sorry to hear to- 
day from O'Brien, that Mrs. Armstead had been indisposed, 
to whom I beg my best regnrds, in which I am joined by a 
young gentleman, who has begun Caesar's Commentaries 
to-day with great spirit. I am yours truly, 

Henry Grattan. 

Mr. Grattan's health by this time had become 
considerably impaired. Public affliction and pri- 
vate annoyance had preyed severely on a mind 
highly sensitive, and on feelings over-ardent and 
patriotic. He saw his fondest hopes baffled and 
disappointed — his country no longer the scene of 
freedom or repose ; and the danger that he had 
long ago apprehended, and often foretold, now- 
appeared certain, not only to threaten, but likely 
to precipitate upon her. His forebodings as to 
the Union were about to be realised, and the Con- 
stitution that he had assisted to procure, was 
now threatened to be taken away. Mr. Pitt was 

* Sent to Mr. Erskine. 


fully prepared to enforce his views upon the subject. 
He seemed resolved to carry the measure of 
Union at any hazard, if he could only get it sup- 
ported by Parliament, — though it might be op- 
posed by the people. He knew the country was 
subdued, and its spirit conquered : in truth, be- 
fore the measure of Union was proposed, Parlia- 
ment had sealed its own doom ; for when it handed 
over the people to be flogged by the soldiery, it 
decided its fate. Parliament had lost its greatest 
support out of doors; it had abandoned the people, 
and when a question about its existence arose, 
the people abandoned the Parliament — they 
certainly were in heart against the measure ; but 
they feared to stir. They would, if they could, 
have taken up arms in order to preserve a pure 
constitution, though not to fight for such a House 
of Commons ; but the Government had so managed 
that they rendered the thing impossible ; they had 
disarmed them— defeated them : stopped their 
meetings — prevented them from declaring openly 
against the Union, and now weighed them down 
by a military force of upwards of 100,000 men : 
these were the fruits of the proceedings of 1798 
— a result which should teach men to be very 
cautious how they support any government in 
strong measures. When the insurgents were put 
down, the country was put down ; for a govern- 
ment is certain always to convert its victory over 
a party, into a conquest over the people. The 
real object of the Minister was to render matters 
easier for himself, and get rid of the trouble of 
two Parliaments. His professed object was to 
consolidate the people ; but his plan proposed no 
such thing, for it kept the Irish divided by law, 
which was certain to keep them disunited in sen- 
timent. Mr. Pitt did not seek to gain the strength 
of the country, for he left the Catholics upon half- 



privileges ; and the heavy charge against him was 
that his proposed plan, like his former govern- 
ment in Ireland, went to continue, as it had ori- 
ginated, a hostile impression towards England, 
and one that could only pass away with the ge- 
neration. In proof of this, when Mr. Cooke, the 
under-secretary, had written a pamphlet in favour 
of the measure, and held out to the Roman Ca- 
tholics the promise of emancipation as a lure to 
induce them to support the Union, Lord Castle- 
reagh interposed, and stopped the publication of 
the work : only half of it was printed — the copies 
were suppressed, and the impression destroyed.* 

Mr. Grattan, hearing " the dreadful note of pre- 
paration" returned to Ireland ; but his health 
proved unequal to sustain him in the conflict ; he 
was powerless, and incapable of attending to 
public affairs. 

The British Parliament had assembled earlier 
than the Irish, and on the 4th of January, 1799, 
the King had sent to it a message recommending 
the Union, and hoping that " the Parliament of 
both kingdoms will proceed in the measures which 
they may judge most expedient for effecting such 
a complete and final adjustment as may best lead 
to confirm and perpetuate the connexion essential 
to their common security, and to augment and 
consolidate the strength, power, and resources of 
the empire." This was opposed by Mr. Sheridan, 
who, after alluding to the final and solemn settle- 
ment made between the two countries in 1782, 
moved an amendment in opposition to the prin- 
ciple, and praying his Majesty would not listen to 
the counsels of those who advised it. This was 

* Mr. Knox, who had been private secretary to Lord Castlereagh, and 
was friencly to the Catholics, saw the work, and used to relate the anec- 
dote. The report, however, having got into circulation, excited 
great sensation, and the pamphlet was eagerly sought for, but in vain, — 
Lord Castlereagh had destroyed it. 

432 canning. — sheridan's opposition, [chap.xi. 

rejected without a division. It was on this occa- 
sion that Mr. Canning highly praised the pamph- 
let of Dr. Duigenan, which he said had effectually 
demolished his opponent. It is probable that 
before his death he changed his mind on this sub- 
ject, as he lived long enough to see and hear both 
of these individuals in the Imperial Parliament. 
On the 31st of January, Mr. Pitt, although he had 
heard of the rejection of the measure by the Irish 
Parliament, brought forward nine resolutions in 
favour of the Union. On this, Mr. Sheridan 
moved two resolutions declaring that the full 
assent of the Parliaments of both countries was 
indispensably necessary, and whoever attempted 
to obtain it by intimidation or corruption,* was an 
enemy to his Majesty and the constitution. 

This measure of paramount importance, and 
the spirited and successful efforts made in 1799 
to defeat it, will be more fully particularized in a 
subsequent chapter. It is here briefly referred to, 
that Mr. Fox's letter and opinion on the subject 

* This was a necessary resolution to adopt, as may appear from the 
following anecdote regarding one of Mr. Grattan's relations. Sir John 
Blackwood and his son Stevenson, — of whom mention has been already 
made, — sat in Parliament for the borough of Killyleagh, and when Lord 
Castlereagh was recruiting for votes in support of the Union, he called 
upon them in the county of Down. Sir John was an independent man, 
and was hostile to the measure. In times past there had been in some 
branch of the family a title of " Dufferin and Claneboy," — so Lord 
Castlereagh taking up the old baronet's snuff-box which lay on the 
chimney-piece, and which bore the family arms, observed, " How well a 
coronet would become this box ! and if you like it, you can easily have it 
by voting for the Union I Sir John Blackwood immediately rang the 
bell, and when the servant came in he desired him to show that gentle- 
man down stairs/ The servant did so, and without saying another word, 
he turned Lord Castlereagh out of his house. — Oh si sic omnes ! This 
spirited old baronet, though very ill, set off in January, 1799, to vote 
against the Union, but he was unable to reach Dublin, and died shortly 

Lord Castlereagh, as I have also heard, was afterwards turned out of 
another person's house in the North of Ireland, for conduct of a similar 
nature. Sheridan was right in proposing his resolution, and Mr. (now 
Lord) Brougham, was under a mistake when he said in one of his 
speeches, that Lord Castlereagh " had never put the question directly." 



may be introduced, and Mr. Grattan's absence 
from Parliament during this period may be satis- 
factorily accounted for. 

The speech from the throne was delivered by 
Lord Cornwallis on the 22nd of January, and 
contained the following paragraph : 

"The unremitting industry with which our enemies 
persevere in their avowed design of endeavouring to effect 
a separation of this kingdom from Great Britain, must 
have engaged your particular attention ; and His Majesty 
commands me to express his anxious hope, that this consi- 
deration, joined to the sentiments of mutual affection and 
common interest, may dispose the Parliaments in botli 
kingdoms to provide the most effectual means of maintain- 
ing and improving a connexion essential to their common 
security, and of consolidating, as far as possible, into one 
firm, lasting fabric, the strength, the power, and the 
resources of the British empire." 

The address of approval in reply was moved by 
Lord Tyrone, one of the Beresford family, and 
was seconded by Mr. Robert Fitzgerald of Cork. 
This was ably opposed on the debate that lasted 
twenty- two hours. 

Mr. Ponsonby proposed to add to that part of 
the address in reply to the Viceroy's speech, re- 
commending a Union, these words : " But main- 
taining the undoubted birthright of the people of 
Ireland to have a free and independent legislature 
resident within the kingdom, as it was asserted 
in the Parliament of this kingdom in 1782, and 
acknowledged and ratified by his Majesty and 
the Parliament of Great Britain upon the final 
adjustment of the discontents and jealousies then 
prevailing among his Majesty's loyal subjects of 
this country." The numbers on the division 
were — Ayes, 105— tellers, George Ponsonby and 
Sir Laurence Parsons ; Noes, 106 — tellers, Lord 
Tyrone and Maurice Fitzgerald (Knight of Kerry). 


F F 



Thus the address was carried only by a majority 
of one. 

On the 24th, on bringing up the address, Mr. 
Ponsonby got leave from the House, upon motion, 
to speak a second time to the question, in conse- 
quence, no doubt, of Lord Castlereagh's very 
pointed attack on him. His reply to his anta- 
gonist was powerful. The numbers on division 
were — against the tenth paragraph, (recommend- 
ing a Union,) remaining part of the address, — Ayes, 
104— tellers, Mr. Smith and M'Clelland (made 
judges after); Noes, 109 — tellers, Sir L. Parsons 
and Denis Bowes Daly. Thus the Minister was 
defeated by a majority of five. 

Mr. Grattan announced this intelligence to Mr. 
Fox in the following letter : 


Kildare-street, Dublin, 20th Jan. 1799. 

My dear Sir ; — I enclose the pamphlet written on the 
Irish Union ; it is written with much spirit, by a very 
worthy man, who is a great admirer of yours, and who 
wishes to stand well in your opinion, that he may stand 
well in his own.* 

You see by the papers the fate of that question. The 
Irish Ministry betrayed the worst designs, accompanied 
with distinguished inability. They threatened — they dis- 
missed — and they bought notoriously and ineffectually, 
and could only muster 107 on the question of the Address, 
when they thought themselves most strong, and were 
finally beaten by a majority of five. In the loss of the 
question, they have lost their reputation for address ; but 
in the attempt, they have lost the confidence of every 
party in Ireland. I hear, from no bad authority, they had 
reckoned on a majority of forty. I was happy at the Duke 
of Leinster's conduct — vexed at Conolly's — and ashamed 
for Yelverton's. I beg to be remembered to Mrs. Fox, and 
I hope, in a few weeks, to see you at Ann's Hill. 

I am, with great sincerity, yours, 

Henry Grattan. 

* Mr. Gooldj afterwards Sergeant, and now Master in Chancery in 



P.S. The Bishop of Down spoke to a Mr. Ball to con- 
tradict what he had asserted in an advertisement, in which 
he attempted to state your sentiments regarding the present 
measure of an Irish Union. He has, I believe, done it. 
Mr. Ball being asked on what ground he stated your sen- 
timents, said he had no ground whatever, but he had heard 
that the Duke of Leinster was for a Union, and he thought 
you might be of the same opinion. 


St. Anns Hi!/, Feb. 4th, 1799. 

My dear Sir; — I leceived, the day before yesterday, 
your letter, with its enclosure, for which I return you mauv 
thanks. The pamphlet is full of spirit, and argument, 
and proves its author to be no common man. 

I am heartily glad of the fate of the Union question in Ire- 
land, as I think it was one of the most unequivocal attempts 
at establishing the principles, as well as the practice, of 
despotism, that has been made in our times. Even the 
French, in their cursed fraternizations, pretend at least 
that they act in consequence of the desire of the people of 
the several countries. If you have read the same account 
that I have of Pitt's speech on Thursday last, you will have 
seen that he is determined to keep the question alive as 
long as he is minister; and what security your anti-Union- 
ists can have against it, it is difficult to conceive, while you 
have a Government who profess openly the intention of 
watching every opportunity of renewing the attack upon 

It should be remembered that this is a case where no 
number of defeats is final ; whereas, one victory decides 
irrecoverably in favour of your enemies. A change of 
Lord Lieutenant does nothing in this case ; and it has oc- 
curred to me, that it is possible Pitt may wish to bring on 
that situation, which, I admit, is the most difficult one that 
can arise in the system of 1782 ; I mean that of one king- 
dom wishing to remove a minister which the other may 
choose to retain; for it will not do to say, that the Kin^ 
may govern Great Britain by one minister, and Ireland by 
another, since the British Minister must of necessity be the 
adviser in the nomination of a Lord Lieutenant. It may 
be refinement, but I think, from his manner of treating the 
Regency business, he seems to see the weakest part of the 
system, and would not be sorry to bring it in full view at a 
FF 2 


time when he thinks himself (and, perhaps, is) strong at 
home. I see no other solution of his conduct, for, surely, 
he cannot think it will smooth things in Ireland to profess 
openly that he intends to take the first occasion of com- 
passing what appears to be the most offensive to its Par- 
liament and people. 

Mrs. Armstead desires to be remembered to you, and 
will, as well as myself, be very happy to see you here when 
you return. I am glad the paragraph you allude to was 
contradicted — the truth is, I never was a friend to the 
Union, as a speculative question, nor should like it even if 
it were the general wish of Ireland, much less at such a 
time, and in such circumstances. I am sorry for Conolly, 
but after he made that speech last summer, I foresaw all 
the rest, Yours, ever sincerely, C. J. Fox. 

The following letters, as they relate to this 
important subject, are inserted to show the feel- 
ing of the writers towards Ireland, and how 
eagerly the earliest advantage was taken of the 
insurrection to urge on the Union. Mr. Dundas, 
then Secretary, writes on the 29th of December, 
1798, to the Earl of Mornington (Marquess Wel- 
lesley), at that time in India ; and after comment- 
ing on the affairs of that empire, and the success 
of the British arms, he adds : 

a # # # rpj^ e mos t pressing subject now remaining, is 
the situation of Ireland — all the attempts of treason to in- 
vade it have been discomfited either by the surrender of 
the troops when landed, or by the capture of their fleet and 
troops by the navy, without permitting them to land. 
Notwithstanding all our exertions at home for our own 
security, and notwithstanding the appropriation of con- 
siderable force to our own distant possessions and the 
Mediterranean, we have been enabled to send to the assist- 
ance of Ireland j within the year, not less than 25,000 troops, 
consisting partly of regular forces, but chiefly of fencibles 
and militia regiments, who have volunteered the service. It 
is now decided that the plan of Union is to he immediately 
brought forward, and the whole strength of Government ap- 
plied to carry it through! /" — Yours, &c, 

H. Dundas. 



Dublin Castle, 18th March, 1799. 
My dear Lord ; — I little thought when we parted, that 
my first letter to you would have been dated from this 
place ; but my evil stars have determined that I never 
should enjoy quiet or comfort, and after relieving me from 
what I then thought a painful task (a second embarkation 
for India), have driven me into a situation ten times more 
arduous, and, in every respect, more intolerable. 

You have many friends that will send you Irish news ; 
and as I can say nothing on the melancholy situation of 
this unhappy country that can afford you satisfaction,* / 
shall not enter nito a detail of our calamities. 

I am, my dear Lord, very truly yours, 



Pluenix Park, 20th Sept. 1799. 
I wish I could say that things in this island wore as 
prosperous an aspect as with you ; but there still remains 
too much treason and disaffection on one side, and too 
much violence on the other. On the whole, however, we 
are better than we have been ; and the idea of a Union 
proves more popular, and gains ground, both in and out of 
Parliament. CoRNWALLis.f 

By some Mr. Grattan was censured for not 
having- at once taken a part against the Union 
when it was proposed in 1799. Neither the will 
nor the spirit were deficient ; but the scenes he 
had gone through had so increased his nervous 
complaint, that he found it impossible to attend to 
politics — quiet and absence from all exciting sub- 
jects were recommended by his physicians as 
the only cure. He was not allowed to read of, 
or to speak on political affairs. Newspapers and 
books were alike prohibited, and change of scene, 

* His brother, Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington), was then in 
India, and has left a memento of his opinion on the subject of the Union, 
given too in a very decided manner ; for in writing about that period to 
a friend of his, and an uncle of mine — the Reverend William Elliot — 
after some remarks on the Irish Parliament, he adds, — " There must be 
jio more Debating Societies in Ireland." 

t See Marquess Wellesley 's Despatches, vol. i. 



[chap. XI. 

and time, was all he was encouraged to look for- 
ward to as a probable remedy. 

The following letters will suffice to rescue him 
from the charge of too great sensitiveness, or the 
supposition that the injuries and insults he had 
received from a portion of his countrymen, would 
have induced him to abandon at so critical a 
period, their dearest interests. 


London, March 5, 1799. 
Dear Sir, — I received your letter of yesterday. Mr. 
Grattan was much better; he went about the town with 
us, was not fatigued, eat heartily, slept well ; this day he 
has had some returns of the meagrims, and unpleasant feel- 
ings in his head, and is not quite so well. Richard Ber- 
mingham is gone out with him in a coach, and perhaps the 
air may be of service ; the Doctor says he has no particular 
complaint, and that time, with a total freedom from every 
distressing subject, will cure him. God grant it, though it 
is an unpleasant life to him. We never talk on the sub- 
ject of politics, — we read by turns, and he lies on the 
sofa, — we are both sensible of your kindness and sin- 
cerity, which is a rare virtue in these times ; I am sure he 
may say so. I know not what to say to your desire of 
his returning to Ireland ; in his present situation I should 
think it bad for him ; when he gets better, I will let him 
know your idea, and perhaps he will agree to it. Now, we 
must only think of removing his complaint, be it what it 
may. Doctor Turton assures me there is no danger, and 
he is my oracle ; he orders no medicine — nothing but air 
and amusement. Mr. Grattan sends his affectionate love. 
I am, most truly, yours, H. Grattan. 


London, Wednesday, April 10, 1799. 
Dear Sir, — I have still the good news to continue of 
Mr. Grattan's being better. Doctor Turton has added 
more bark to his former prescription, and orders him to 
continue the same course of exercise, &c. &c. &c. He is 
not yet able to amuse himself with reading or writing ; but 
we supply the power he wants, and entertain him con- 




Mr. Grattan is out riding with Mr. Bermingham, or 
would send his particular regards. — All, most truly, your 
sincere friends, Henrietta Grattan. 

London, 25, Blandford-street, Manchester-square, 

May 11, 1799. 

Dear Mr. M'Can, — I would have written to you 
sooner, had anything particular occurred. 

Mr. Grattan begs of you to go to Tinnehinch, and 
enquire from Savage whether M'Cue takes care of the 
place. This is the first conversation we have had on the 
subject of Tinnehinch, for I did not read to him or tell him 
of what Mrs. Bermingham mentioned about the soldiers 
cutting down the trees. It would have agitated him, and 
these two last days he has had a return of his disorder. I 
have had Doctor Turton, and intended calling in another 
physician, had he continued with the same symptoms. 
This day the uneasy feel in his head returned, — a dread 
of falling, and a pain in his head, when the horse trotted, — 
an inability to read, which he has not done for this fort- 
night past, until last Wednesday. This has not raised my 
spirits, for I hoped all was over, and I now find all is to 
begin again ; but God's will be done ! You may judge we 
shall not think of Ireland, when I dare not even talk of the 
depredations committed there. The weather must affect 
him; 'tis cold as March, and most unpleasant, — no sign of 
spring. I hope it agrees with all your family, and that 
you are in perfect health, which is the sincere wish of both 
Mr. Grattan, and your true friend, 

Henrietta Grattan. 


May 15th, 1799. 
Dear Sir; — I received your letter on Tuesday last — I 
sent it to Mr. Burrowes this morning — on Saturday Mr. 
Bermingham shall go for it and the money. I am grieved 
at the account of Tinnehinch, and wish you could have 
gone in the interval, from the 25th of March to the 8th of 
May, which time you say you were there. I hear great 
depredations have been committed, and the trees cut down 
by the soldiers.* I know not who to put into it, or what de- 

* I never heard that Government punished their men, or sent 
them to Mr. Grattan to atone for their depredations, as Dwyer the 


scription of person I could get, that would be called re- 
spectable. Give me an idea of any one that strikes you as 
proper, and I will try to get Mr. Grattan's consent ; he is 
very indifferent this last week — had much of those affec- 
tions, and the least thing agitates him. 

I have not dared to mention the name of Tinnehinch, 
except one day when he desired me lo write to you about 
it. He thinks the labourers too numerous ; he does not like 
expense when he is not there. As to returning to Ireland, 
that is a jest — he does not like going even out of town, 
because of removing from the physicians. He walks much, 
and rides every day, but cannot bear noise, or crowd, or 
heat. I am sometimes fearful that this disorder will hang 
a longtime on him. I read to him constantly, and he never 
writes. I am most truly yours, H. Grattan. 


Cowes, Isle of Wight, June 29, 1799. 

Dear Sir, — We are much obliged to you for the 
account of Tinnehinch, and since we mean to visit it, 
without fail, in a few months, hope to find it as you 
describe, and the country tranquil. We arrived at the 
Isle of Wight without any fatigue ; the place agrees won- 
derfully with Mr. Grattan, and has already been of service 
to him ; he is in perpetual exercise, and for ever on the 
sea ; bathing has done him good, and except his rest, 
which is not quite returned, he is astonishingly recovered ; 
he does not attempt either to read or write, but his appetite 
is good, and so are his spirits. The island is very beautiful, 
and the little town very commodious for bathing and boat- 
ing, with good accommodation of every sort ; the village is 
mostly built up the side of the hill, and overhangs the sea 
beautifully, which is covered with boats and ships. It is a 
most healthful situation. 

My girls and boys are well, and delight in this place ; 
they desire to be remembered to you, and Mr. Grattan 
sends his best regards. I fear Mr. Browne has no chance 
of the Provostship ; I wish it was in my gift, and he should 
not fail. I am, yours, &c. H. Grattan. 

insurgent did when his men acted in a similar manner near Lord 
Wicklow's. In more instances than this could the Irish Government 
have profited by the maxim — " Fas est ab hoste doceri!" — See page 397. 



Cowes, Sept. 8, 1799. 

Sir, — I am sorry to say that we are not as well as 
when I last wrote. Mr. Grattan has had a return of his 
complaint; the sleepless nights make him very dejected in 
the day, and he intends going for a week to Twickenham, 
before our return to Ireland. The latter end of this month, 
we quit this island, and I am grieved it will not be with 
that advantage which I had hoped Mr. Grattan would 
have received ; he looks well, but his appetite is not as 
good as usual, yet I make him take nourishing things ; he 
has been obliged to give up reading, which is a great dis- 
tress to him, it makes him so dependent on others for that 
amusement he always had in his own power. You were 
very kind in your intention about the horses ; but he will 
have job-horses, and everything that will prevent trouble 
or thought to him ; one safe horse of his own he must have, 
I have written to Mr. Bermingham to look out for one, 
and you also do the same ; a safe trotting pony would be 
the best, I should think. Our weather is better this last 
week ; I do not find it warmer than our own, but with less 
rain. Though the wind is easterly and strong, Mr. Grattan 
sits in a boat in the sea for hours, to get the air round 
him, and the exercise, which does not fatigue. If he con- 
tinues at all well, we shall return in winter to Ireland ; but 
his changes are so sudden, that it is impossible to fix on 
any plan a week before. 

My children are all well, and Mr. Grattan joins me in 
best regards to you and wishes for you. — I am, yours, &c, 

Henrietta G. 

Mr. Grattan's parliamentary career in Ireland 
was now fast approaching to its close. At the end 
of the year 1799 he returned to dedicate the re- 
mainder of his days to the service of his country. 
These, indeed, promised to be few. Distracted in 
mind — distempered in body — broken down in 
spirits, in health, and in hope — he came too feeble 
and too late to be of service. How fallen ! — how 
changed ! — no longer what he was when, with a 
Charlemont* at the head of forty thousand Volun- 

* He died in 1799, and his death at this critical period greatly 
afflicted Mr. Grattan. 



teers, he called forth the nation to arms and to 
liberty — 

Hei mihi ! qualis erat, quantum mutatus ab illo ! 

The spirit of better days had fled — like a dream 
it had passed away, and no signs appeared of its 

Other times, and other men had come — Clare, 
Pitt, the Beresfords, — these were the lords of the 
ascendant: and the old and steady assertors of 
their country's rights, stigmatised and reviled, 
were now cast unfeelingly into the shade. What, 
then, could be hoped for Ireland? — what could . 
she expect ? — Nay, what could have been ex- 
pected or said even of England, if, after expelling 
James II., the English had chosen his advisers 
for their ministers, or if, after their Revolution, 
they had discarded Lord Somers, who had given 
them liberty? — the same fate as now befel Ire- 

Her staunchest supporter was not only disabled 
for the fight, but he came late into the field — 

Inutile ferrum 
Cingitur, ac densos fertur moriturus in hostes. 

The enemy had been in occupation the entire of 
the year, and though defeated at the outset, re- 
mained unsubdued and unterrified. Mr. Pitt 
was obstinate in his labours ; Lord Castlereagh 
was indefatigable. Mr. Pitt had treasured up 
in his mind the remembrance of his defeat on the 
Regency question, and came down upon Ireland 
with a hoarded resentment. He allowed the 
people to deceive themselves by the blind expec- 
tations which he dexterously held out. He gained 
some — neutralized others — took advantage of 
both, and, finally, broke faith with all. He sought 
to bribe the Roman Catholic clergy ; he strove to 
cajole the Roman Catholic laity, and buy the 
representatives of the nation : — to the first he held 



out the hopes of salary and pension ; to the se- 
cond, the imperial phantom of privilege; and to the 
third, gold, silver, and titles (not honour!) His 
caitiffs of corruption were everywhere : stooping 
to the basest arts of public and private prostitution, 
and destroying the morals as well as the inde- 
pendence of the community,